My wife and I ride bicycles. Not the sleek, multi-geared modern models that real bicyclists ride but the ones with the wide, white-walled tires that rattled up and down American streets in the 1940s and 1950s.
I’ve watched these new sleek metal bikes powered by younger, sleeker human bodies fly by us on the trails near our home as the riders cry out from beneath their bullet-shaped helmets for us to move quickly to the left so they will have unfettered egress to the path ahead. We frighteningly obey.
You see, there was a season for my wife and I to ride these swift, modern marvels of steel but, alas, that season has now passed us by. Instead, we are inclined to hug the safe, right side of our trail atop our sturdy steed of the fifties, no gears to contemplate and an ample seat that fits our posteriors.
Did I mention my bike has a basket that jauntily hovers over the front fender, ready to accommodate a loaf of bread or a quart of milk – anything that might be required of it at a moment’s notice? No, our bike rides have drifted into a different season than those who pass us by.
So it is in all things of life. There are seasons to endure, seasons to enjoy but one thing for certain, seasons change. As God’s Word says:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace,” Eccl. 3:1-8.
I graduated high school in 1956 from Muncie Central High in Muncie, Ind., a small town east of Indianapolis. My graduation class contained 500-plus seniors and I suppose, like me, most were entering into their new season of hope as they made that march wearing their tasseled mortarboards – hope that somehow they might find fame and fortune, the perfect education, a great job or as the writers of fairytales put it, a life that can be summarized by the single phrase “and they lived happily ever after.” But life seems to get in the way and happily ever aftering is easier said than done.
No doubt, many of my fellow classmates (or is it proper now to say, classpersons?) have lived much of their 72 years in a constant recalibration of their season of hope. Pondering this possibility, I’d like to propose a solution.
For me, HOPE stands for: His Offer Provides Eternity.
At 72, this is the wonderful season I find myself in. It’s a season that I can count on – not promised or crafted by the hands of man, but written in blood by the Sovereign Creator who not only has the love to promise it, but the power to bring it to pass. As the time draws closer I do have the sense of hope that Paul meant when he said: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known,” 1 Cor. 13:12.
I find myself wondering how many in my high school class are still trying to find a new season where they once again might find hope. Seventy-two is that kind of age. It’s a time where nearly all of us sense our mortality and find it harder and harder to be joyful about the prospects that lie just around the corner.
At this stage of life most have reasoned that at death all assets are zeroed out. What they perhaps don’t know is that in addition to our assets being forfeited, unending liabilities are added on. To make matters worse these debts are counted “past due” the instant we die. Of course, for those who are living in God’s season of hope, there is quite a difference since our liabilities have already been paid for and at death, unending assets are added on.
When my wife and I are whizzed by on the bike trail, I somehow sense that many of the young riders with the disdainful looks on their faces are somewhat surprised to see the happy countenance we bear – not because our bikes can match theirs or our bodies have retained their sleekness, but because we are enjoying our season of hope. (Ron Walser is a member of South Creek Church, Springfield.)