Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Beginning and End (04/16/09)
TITLE: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
By Fiona Dorothy Stevenson
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The minister quoted the words while he settled his Bible on the lectern and opened it.
“If you will turn with me to the first chapter of the Gospel of John, I would like you to consider beginnings. The beginning was not the second of November 1933, as my wife reminded me this morning.” He smiled across the rows of upturned faces. His wife inclined her head. “My beginning and your beginning are of little consequence in relation to THE beginning. Consider the phrase: ‘In the beginning was the Word.” The Word was there before the beginning. The Word made the beginning. You may find this concept difficult to accept, but…..”
Dora settled comfortably into her seat, Bible open on her lap, listening to the minister enlarge upon his subject. His voice was pleasant, the church was warm, and she was weary with the weariness of grief. As Pastor Clay read and quoted the well-remembered verses of Scripture, her mind slid away to her father’s last letter-letters. In the final week of his life he wrote to her three times. She knew that he had struggled with influenza during the winter, but not that he was in hospital, nor that he was dying.
In the last letter he wrote of the night of her birth. Her beginning. She wandered in and out among the half-remembered fields of childhood, fields reluctantly shared with her brother. Why is it so hard to share? With a catch in her throat she recalled his indignant confrontation: “You’re not the only pebble on the beach, Dorrie!” Now he too was dead, and the coveted fields were her own, no longer desired and thankfully in the past.
“If you will turn with me to the third chapter of John,” the minister’s voice broke through her reverie. “Verse three. Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” As we saw that the beginning of the world was marred by the fall, so too our personal beginnings soon become marred, first by inherited sin, then by our own choices of selfishness. Jesus offered a new beginning.”
Dora remembered the night when she was confronted by the same challenge that Nicodemus faced. She believed there was a God, but she did not attend a church and she did not read the Bible, so she knew nothing about Him, except that He was there, somewhere. She then was confronted with the verse, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” She faced the issue and the challenge, finding her own new beginning, her new birth believing in Christ Jesus.
There were many things to be learned about her new family, her new life. Each day brought a new expectation, a new confidence, not now in herself but in God. The Bible brought revelation, sometimes of herself, more often of the Lord. The years sped by leaving Ebenezers raised, altars of witness erected. She learned to look to others needs before her own; to find in the Giver of all gifts her needs were met. Not only needs were met, deeply desired blessings were also conferred. And now, after seventy years and more, it was still the beginning.
“What of the end?” Pastor Clay asked. “If I die tomorrow, is that the end? Not by any means. Not even for me. In death I face a new beginning, a beginning without end. Today we live in the beginning of a newness of life. Tomorrow it will be our privilege to be presented, faultless in Christ, before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. Before I close, is there anyone present who does not have this confidence?”
Dora reflected as she closed her Bible and stood for the benediction: yesterday I was born, my first beginning. Sometime during today I have experienced a new beginning, a new birth in Christ; and tomorrow there awaits me another beginning, a beginning whose end is Christ. Christ is forever.
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