Psalm 90:12: “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.”

Brevity of life – what the Psalmist is referring to here is obviously our lifetime on Earth, which is indeed limited. Our soul, however, is ageless and lives forever!

Certainly, not everybody believes in an afterlife. But even if you don’t, all the more is it important to reap the benefits of being here. What are the benefits? The greatest benefit we derive from being alive is giving back to people. My experience is even if we give just a little bit, we receive so much more in return. It may be a little counter-intuitive to live that way, but then, everything God says is counter-intuitive. Take His famous love commandment for instance (Mark 12:30-31):

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

It’s not easy to love a random neighbor. And at times it’s not easy to love yourself. Counter-intuitive, to say the least! And yet, if you go for it and love yourself as well as your neighbor, your life is well-lived. Loving God adds the much-needed third dimension into our lives. Without God, life would be just two-dimensional – my neighbor and me. Include God into the equation, and we gain depth perception. With God comes love that outlasts us. He has loved us long before we even recognized Him. With God comes purpose. Yes, Virginia, there is an afterlife, and God is our eternal home. He created us, we came from Him, and that’s where we belong.

The fact that we’re all going to die at some point is our daily reality. Wrestling with death we hold on to dear life! So did King David when he asked God the question (Psalm 30:9):

“What will you gain if I die, if I sink into the grave? Can my dust praise you? Can it tell of your faithfulness?”

The end of our life marks the end of all our activities on Earth. Our activities during our lifetime – good or bad – leave a mark. That’s the kind of legacy we leave. Let’s make a positive impact now, while we’re still here. Let’s invest ourselves; be passionate; fight indifference; love like there’s no tomorrow. Remember: life is short, and each moment here is a gift. We need to use it wisely!


Blackbird fly, blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night

Luke 9:23-24: “Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.”

In chapter 9 of Luke’s gospel we read about the tell-tale signs that Jesus’ ministry on Earth was coming to a close. On His way to Jerusalem where His own life would be taken Jesus addressed the crowd with the following words: “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” Jesus walked the talk. He did not hang on to His own life; giving up His life He saved it when God resurrected Him on the Third Day; and by freely giving His life He ultimately saved ours.

However, ever since we walked out on Eden we’ve been in the habit of hanging on to our own life, our own way, and rely on our own best judgment. It’s the human condition. “East of Eden”, a novel written by John Steinbeck and transformed into a movie in 1955 is showcasing the pain of faltering human relationships. There’s plenty of pain involved living outside of Eden; though we’ve also experienced the amazing goodness of the Lord for not dropping us like a hot potato. Once life on Earth becomes a mere memory, we are able to look back and recognize without a shadow of a doubt that life without God is no life at all.

After Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave He sat down at the right hand of God. That says it all. He is a hero in the Father’s eyes because what His heart wanted most – extending grace to all His estranged children – is now happening on any given day. People realize one by one that they are loved by God, that the doors to reconciliation are wide open. Reunions take place. People find Heaven or Heaven finds them. Jesus’ sacrificial death enables grace upon grace!

If food goes bad we throw it in the trash. When mankind turned bad God didn’t do that. The longer we’ve lived seeing what is happening on this planet (and has been going on for generations) the more God’s belief in us becomes apparent. Yes, this is an astounding fact: God believes in us – so much so that He bet His Son’s life on it. He invests in us by withholding nothing and giving it all! If God so full-heartedly believes in us, shouldn’t we believe in Him?

John 3:16: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Genesis 41:51-52: “Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.’ Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.’”

The other day Joseph’s son accidentally ran into a stranger as he was running backwards to catch a ball. The stranger, clearly annoyed, yelled at him: “Hey you! What’s your name?” “I Forget” “No really! What’s your name?” “My name’s I forget” “You’re weird! How can you forget your own name?”

Of course I made this up, but couldn’t a conversation like this potentially happen if you apply names to your children that mean a lot to you but maybe not so much to your children? The names of the two brothers Ephraim and Manasseh represent his father Joseph’s life experience. And what a life experience he has had! A roller coaster of events one might say: from favorite son of his father Jacob back home to slave in a foreign country; from a no-name slave in Egypt to Potiphar’s Personal Attendant; from Potiphar’s Personal Attendant to a forgotten prisoner in an Egyptian dungeon; from a forgotten prisoner to the Prison Warden‘s Assistant Manager; from the Prison Warden’s Assistant Manager to Pharaoh’s Second in Command. That’s Joseph’s story, and so he named his kids “Forget” and “Fruitful” because God made him forget the past and made him fruitful in a foreign country. His own name was changed from Joseph to Zaphenath-paneah as if to make the transition into his new life complete. A different name, a different life, a different identity!

Well, not quite! Joseph’s past would catch up to him when a worldwide famine brought his brothers to his doorsteps – the same brothers who sold him to the Midianites as a slave to teach him a lesson. The lesson they tried to get across to Joseph: “You may be Dad’s favorite but you’re not better than we are!” As it turned out, they too had to learn a lesson or two. Lesson #1: You will be treated just the same way you’ve been treating others.  Lesson#2: Lies will eventually catch up to you. More than two decades went by when a time of testing came for both parties: Would Joseph bear a grudge? Would his brothers finally get real? The story fortunately ends on a happy note: his brothers confessed the ugly details of what they have kept secret for so long and Joseph completely forgave them. As a result the family was reunited, a dead relationship rekindled and his family saved from starvation in a seven-year drought. Joseph lived up to his new name Zaphenath-paneah. Zaphenath-paneah means, “He who calls is life” or “God speaks life”, and Joseph certainly spoke life into a very bad situation.

The question on my mind today is: what kind of words do I speak over my bad situation? Do I assess it, call it “bad” and be overcome with grief or do I assess the situation and pray to God who might see some potential? When God speaks, life flourishes.  That’s His very nature.  We see the world around us as living proof. Connected with Him we can become His Life agents. We see someone struggling with addiction, and we speak life into the situation.  We struggle with unemployment, our health, our finances, and we find that God is navigating us through very confusing times – if we dare to look up. Joseph put his trust in God when people meant to harm him, and we need to do the same. We need to stop obsessing and start confessing that we do not need to be in control. Even though it’s quite unsettling to let things go, at the same time I have to say it’s a huge relief for me. And the lesson in trust can be quite rewarding if we look into Joseph’s life. The same God Joseph believed in we believe in today. Your faith transforms into your very own life’s story, and you’ll encourage more people than you’ll ever know!

Isaiah 43:2; “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.”