Dr. Stanley Spence, Pastor First Baptist Church, Lincolnton, N.C.
Here is a paraphrase of something from the book "Some Fruits of Solitude"--a 1682 collection of epigrams and sayings put together by the early American Quaker leader William Penn: ‘If you would be happy and easy in your family, above all things observe discipline. Everyone in it should know their duty, and there should be a time and place for everything; and whatever else is done or omitted, be sure to begin and end with God.'
This is one of the most economic uses of words to describe the human role and purpose of existence. Know your duty. How many roll through life not knowing their purpose of anything? How many pursue their happiness and never consider their duties in life as part of that happiness.
Years ago we used to decry the invention of time-saving machines only to have less time than ever to live. Cars, microwaves, phones, and computers have changed the landscape in which we now live. Yet, instead of just our duties in life, we are now pursuing matters of happiness and escape with more time than ever. We are experiencing travel and knowledge through exploration with lightning speed. However, the vast majority have overlooked the wisdom of William Penn’s final part of his statement, ‘Whatever else is done or omitted, be sure to begin and end with God.’
Rarely does God enter the equation of what we want to do or not. We just do it. When a trip to the store in William’s day was a long ride beginning with buckling up the horse and carriage, we would have given it more thought than we do today. Today, we just hop in the car and go. Rarely do we give that trip to the store the importance of seeking whether God is in it or not. However, we should be ready to give thanks for the privilege and freedom to choose our course of the day by God’s hand.
The blessing of a more complete life experience is a gift from God. It implies duty and our knowing why we are here. That question can only be answered by a closer walk with Jesus. Then our lives will begin and end in our relationship with God.
During COVID, use this time of isolation to reflect on what gifts and duties God has given you. Center your life on those reflections. In so doing you will order the other elements of life with a spiritual purpose.
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