inexpressible and filled with glory

Like a Shadow
7 September 2009, 5:44 pm
Filed under: General | Tags: , ,

This weekend, I spoke at three meetings in the Mudgee/Gulgong area about the persecuted church and ministry of Voice of the Martyrs. Katherine and I were privileged to enjoy the hospitality of Paul Beringer, the pastor of Gulgong Presbyterian Church, and his wife Jennie. We had a fantastic weekend of fellowship and prayer – we really appreciated their generosity to us.

It seemed that our time together over the weekend was a breathe of fresh air for Paul and Jennie, as rural ministry has been difficult for them. After spending most of their years in pastoral ministry in the Western Sydney area, the challenges of rural ministry have been significant: isolation from family and friends, loneliness in the ministry and a lack of peer support, no converts, a small and ageing congregation, the drought – the list could go on and on. And yet, in the midst if their trials, they continue to praise God who is sovereign over all of this and to faithfully love and serve the people of Gulgong with the gospel.

Paul kindly offered to give me some of the books in the pastoral library that he has amassed over his 35 years of ministry. Paul is near his retirement, and was eager to start passing his resources on to the next generation. Paul is the second pastor who has offered me books from his library. To meet and learn from these experienced brothers in the Lord is a privilege I don’t take for granted. Their retirement reminds me of passages in Scripture that talk of the fleetingness of our days here on earth. Passages like:

For who knows what is good for man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? – Ecclesiastes 6:12

The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass. – Isaiah 40:7

My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass. – Psalm 102:11

I am in the height of my youth, and it is certainly tempting to feel like life is long, life is good and I can make what I like of it. I need to be constantly reminded that life is but a breathe. I am here today, I may be gone tomorrow. Life is fleeting and God is in control of my days.

I guess the question is not so much ‘What am I going to do with my life?’, because in the end that doesn’t really matter. The question that is really important is ‘How am I going to live my life?’


6 Comments so far
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“There is a cost to making your life count… You just have to be willing to pay the price.”

Comment by Mike

The price is EVERYTHING. It involves a complete and TOTAL death to ourselves, so that Christ can become greater, while we become smaller.

Comment by Mike

Like you need more books Brad 😉 But seriously, that is cool. I’m really glad you had a good time out west. The country is great.

I’ve been thinking a bit about what you wrote: “I guess the question is not so much ‘What am I going to do with my life?’, because in the end that doesn’t really matter.”

While I like the sentiment, and certainly our main focus should be refining our character rather than our career (or even our area of ministry), surely it does matter what we do with our lives. It wouldn’t have been much good for Billy Graham to spend his life driving a bread truck. Not that he couldn’t have honoured God doing that job, it’s just that God had bigger plans for his life.

Maybe what we do does matter. We need to work out our gifts and seek God’s guidance through all of life so that he might refine our character and direct our paths into place he wants us to go.


Comment by Josh Maule

Ah yes – some controversy! Your dreams of debate and discussion are finally being realized Josh.

I like what you write, and I certainly think the choices we make about what to do with our lives matter – one must only consider Jesus’ condemnation of the worker who did not steward his talent wisely to see the truth of what you say (Luke 19:11-27). It is my deepest desire not to waste my life, which means that I will plan and pray to steward it wisely.

But I think if you consider life from an eternal perspective, that our lives are but specks of dust in global history, that we are nothing but filthy sinners but God chose to save us from his initiative, through his power, for his glory, then the most important thing is how we live in response to the gospel. What we do doesn’t have any significance in the gospel – it is all what God has done for us. We’re not going to save lives, and any difference that we make will only be through God’s power. The Spirit will be at work wherever we choose to go, the most important thing is that our hearts and minds are seeking God, praying for him to work. I think if our character is right, if we have been transformed by the renewing of our minds, then we will end up making good choices about what to do with our lives anyway.

So really it comes down to priority – we must seek to live humbly before our God, to develop godly character SO THAT we can know what to do with our lives and follow the Spirit’s leading.


I think my post on Mahaney’s Sex, Romance and the Glory of God also touches on some of these issues.

Comment by bradkonemann

Yeah, yeah, I’m totally with you.

It just sounded more passive when you first wrote it. Like decisions didn’t matter.

But, I’m with you. Responding rightly to the gospel is everything.

Comment by Josh Maule

Yeah, sorry for coming across that way. I think the context for decisions that I was referring to was not choosing between good and bad because that is reasonably straight forward. I think the harder decisions (the decisions where Christians really seek God’s will) are the decisions between good and good. I’m saying that it in this context the most important thing is probably not what you do, but how you do it.

I’d be interested to read Kevin De Young’s latest book also which deals with decision making:

Another thing that came to mind was Proverbs 19:21: ‘Many are the plans in the mind od a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand’.

Comment by bradkonemann

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