“Our once great western Christian civilization is dying. If this matters to followers of Jesus Christ, then we must set aside our denominational differences and work together to strengthen the things that remain and reclaim what has been lost. Evangelicals and Catholics must stand together to re-establish that former Christian culture and moral consensus. We have the numbers and the organization but the question is this: Do we have the will to win this present spiritual battle for Jesus Christ against secularism? Will we prayerfully and cooperatively work toward a new Christian spiritual revival ― or will we choose to hunker down in our churches and denominationalisms and watch everything sink into the spiritual and moral abyss of a New Dark Age?” - Mark Davis Pickup

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Every so often things happen that change a man forever. They are profound events that make an indelible mark on his heart, and even his soul.  They have such a powerful effect on him that he will never be the same again -- in this world or the next. I call them these events “forever moments.”

Usually “forever moments” are longer than a moment. They may come in the form of the birth of a child or watching a loved-one die. Both these events happened simultaneously to me a number of years ago.

My grand-daughter was being born in the maternity ward of a hospital. At the same time, on a different floor of the same hospital, my terminally ill mother was receiving treatment. I shuttled back and forth between floors where events at the two ends of the life spectrum were being played out. It was a strange irony.

There I was, suspended between congratulations and consolations. On one floor there was great jubilation to welcome a new life into the world; on the other floor I had to shift internal gears to comfort, console and reassure my 92 year old mother. She was preparing herself mentally, emotionally and spiritually for the prospect of death.  The difference between the two situations was striking and obvious.

Different yet similar

The biggest difference between the two lives was age.  But that's a puny human perspective. In the eyes of God, the difference between my mother’s 92 years and my granddaughter’s two hours was insignificant. The Psalms tell us that to God a thousand years are like a day that has just passed (Psalm 90.4). The similarities between the birth of my granddaughter and the dying of my mother
were less obvious but equally striking and poignant.

Struggle marked both events. The baby was so fragile, so dependent on others. My mother (the baby’s great-grandmother) was racked with cancer. She was frail and dependent on others too. 
My mother was moved to a palliative care bed in a local hospital closer to her home. My granddaughter was moved to a cradle in her home.

People were entrusted with the care of both lives: they were called to embrace both lives with tender and unconditional love and nurture.

(It’s easy to identify nurture with children, but an aged person? Absolutely! The need for human nurture never stops until a person draws their last breath. The opportunity to give nurture is always present.)

Spiritual life-lessons

God was using the two events I mentioned to teach me critically important spiritual truths:

  • Life on earth is transitory, like a brief vapor, then it is gone. That is why we should invest in matters important to God more than matters important to man. We should build treasures that last in heaven and not treasures that rust and rot on earth. We are here such a brief time.
  • Take every opportunity to lift up and nurture the lives around us.
  • Give reverence to the innate dignity present in every human being.
  • Love life in every state and stage that we find it.

Never equate time with value. God loves an old woman on her death-bed as much as a newborn baby in a cradle. God’s immense love envelopes both lives equally. God does not discard or abandon lives that are broken or worn-out in favor of the new lives with potential galore. That may be the way of the world; it may be the way of the cost-benefit analysts or utilitarian bioethicists … but it is not God’s way.

King David wrote, “Indeed, You [God] have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.” (Psalm 39.5).

My mother's death vigil was heartbreaking yet it gave me forever moments with her. Those moments brought new depth to the commandment to honour one’s parents. Those forever moments revealed new dimensions of forgiveness and being forgiven. I was given the privilege of joining her suffering to comfort and console her. Those forever moments taught me about generational responsibility to nurture our old until their last breath. My mother has been dead for nearly 9 years but I cherish those memories and forever moments.    

My granddaughter has also been teaching me a thing or two about joy, and generational responsibility to nurture the young. She will have her 9th birthday old soon. Where does the time go? Her great grandmother would have been proud of her.

[Click on image below or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRRlAaX4Pxs for Chopin, Nocturne  21, C minor, pianist Tzi Erez. My mother taught piano for over 60 years. Even as she was dying, I remember her giving final instructions to a favourite student. ]

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