Saturday, January 11, 2014

Transitions: Triplets of Change from Death to Life

Photo by Graham Crumb 2009

As we are made in the image of the Triune God (Genesis 1:26-27), it is not surprising that our physical and spiritual being, our relationships, and our life path reflect His three-part nature. Our lives unfold and transform according to His perfect plan, with triplets of change marking our transitions along that path (Jeremiah 29:11).

Solomon speaks of God making everything beautiful in His time. He speaks of the times and seasons of life, beginning with a time to be born and a time to die (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2,11). Yet sandwiched between these two events is the span of our time here on earth. In 1966, Linda Elllis wrote a poem called “The Dash,” referring to that tiny line on the grave stone between the birth year and the year of death – that tiny line that represents all we do with our allotted time in this life (Psalm 90:10). In the scheme of eternity, that time is like a vapor, disappearing like the puff of air we exhale on a frosty day (James 4:14).

So life on earth is the transition from birth to death, and even before that is gestation, during which the baby lives in its mother’s womb in the transition from conception to birth. When we are born, we as children depend on others to provide for our physical needs; then we are self-sufficient as mature adults; but then we become elderly and begin to deteriorate physically, once again requiring support from others. God therefore commands us to honor our parents, not only when we are children and their care prolongs our life (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16), but also as adults when the tables are turned and we provide for them (Mark 7:10-12).

Since Adam and Eve fell and sin and death entered this world (Genesis 2:17; 3), our bodies have been doomed to age. The process of physical maturation and decay is marked by transitions in posture and stance – horizontal in infancy as the baby spends most of its time sleeping and then crawling; upright in adolescence and adulthood; then stooped and ultimately bedridden due to the ravages of old age. Yet physical aging need not mean the end of our usefulness to others and service to God, as was the case with Caleb (Joshua 14:9-14), Moses (Deuteronomy 34:7), Naomi (Ruth 4:14-17) and others.

Before puberty we cannot have children; then we become sexually mature and capable of parenting; but as we age, we become infertile and lose our reproductive potential. (Of course, nothing is impossible with God, and He blessed Sarah (Genesis 17:15-19) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:13-18) with children at a very old age even though they had been barren).  

Even more important than the physical transitions every person must undergo are the spiritual transitions God freely offers to whosoever desires them (Revelation 22:17). When we seek God, and search for Him with all our heart, we shall find Him. Then we can call upon Him, and pray to Him, and He will listen to our prayers (Jeremiah 29:12-13). Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, later paraphrased this by saying, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not (Jeremiah 33:3).

Jesus Himself promised us the greatest possible life changes if we are willing to undergo three transitions or steps of obedience: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7).

Sadly, many reject Christ’s offer of eternal life. These unsaved people must transition from life to three kinds of death: not only physical death (Hebrews 9:27) that all of us face (unless we are still alive at the Rapture; 1 Corinthians 15:50-54) but also spiritual death, or separation from God during their earthly life (Ephesians 2:1; Colossians 2:13), and eternal death with everlasting punishment in Hell (Mark 3:29; John 5:29).

By calling on the Name of Jesus, we can go from death in sin to being born again (John 3:3-8), followed by spiritual growth as we are progressively conformed to His image (Philippians 3:10-14). When we are born again, we are transformed from a natural man (unsaved), ideally to a spiritual Christian yielded to the Holy Spirit, but sometimes to a carnal Christian when the old sin nature wins the daily battle against the Holy Spirit (Romans 7:13-23; 8:6; 1 Corinthians 2:14-16).

One of the most important transitions of our life involves how we deal with sin, for all of us are sinners in need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). First we must ask His forgiveness of our sins (1 John 1:8-10), then we must repent or turn away from willful sin (1 John 2:1-6), and then we must forgive those who have sinned against us (Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 17:4). All of our sins nailed Jesus to the tree, yet He forgave us (Colossians 2:13), so how much more should we be willing to forgive others? (Matthew 18:21-35) To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48).   

Praise God that He allows whosoever will to transition from death to abundant life (John 10:10) here and now and to eternal life in His presence! May we place our faith in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and spend our short time here on earth by praising, worshipping and following Him!

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Unknown said...

Thank You Lord for the ability to call on Your name and be saved.

Thanks Laurie!

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Salina! Praise God that is one prayer He will always answer "Yes!"
God bless,

Brenda said...

Hi Laurie,
yes forgiveness of others is essential, for if we do not forgive others then our Heavenly Father will not forgive us.
God bless you for sharing.

Janis Cox said...

I am following you today from Scripture and a Snapshot. I love your picture of the hyphen showing the time we are here. Wow - that is something, isn't it?

Nadwra┼╝liwiec said...

Today we had sermon from 2nd Cronicles 4, 1 - 7: preacher was visitor from Ukraine. We discussed this part of Scripture in groups and he told, that people, even non believing in God, want to listen to our histories of God's work in our life - people would rather listen to interesting stories than long sermons or books. Greetings from cold Cracow :)

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
It does seem tragic to realise how short our lives here on earth really are, as you say, represented by the dash on the tombstone.
However, if we had lived in the UK during the Dark or Middle ages, we would be fortunate to get past the age of thirty, then not forgetting the Black Death, the bubonic plague and other dreadful diseases which wiped out adults and children alike.
Then, as Jesus himself had said, these people who had suffered such dreadful deaths were no more sinful or wicked than today's generation who enjoy much greater health.
Again, thanks for your insight in the triple-natured post reflecting the Trinity.
God bless.


Amen, repentance is such an important part. Without it we cannot be saved. Sad to say I have come across so many who don't understand it. I just stumbled across your blog. Great job and God bless you.

Donald Fishgrab said...

In Dr. Phil McGraw's book, "LIFE CODE", one of the rules he gives for success in life is never to give up your power by admitting you are wrong. It is that unwillingness to acknowledge our own mortality that causes many to reject Christ's sacrifice for them even though they know they are going to die.

Laurie Collett said...

Praise God that if we confess our sins, He is swift to forgive us. He has forgiven all our sins that nailed Him to the cross, and so should we forgive others.
May God richly bless you and your ministry,

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Janis! May we use our (very brief) time wisely!
Have a blessed week in Him!

Laurie Collett said...

That's so true, Zim -- as they say, our lives are the only Bible some people will ever read. May they see Christ in us, and may we be bold to tell them how He has changed our lives.
Stay warm & God bless!

Laurie Collett said...

Great point, Frank -- the length of the dash, and the opportunities it offers, are in God's hands. Because of the curse of sin since the Fall, our average lifespan is now 70-80 years instead of nearly a millennium that some of the Bible patriarchs enjoyed. But thanks be to God for allowing modern medicine to develop treatments that prevent untimely death from plague & other previously fatal infections.
Thanks as always for sharing your insights & your encouragement, & God bless,

Dolly @Soulstops said...

Hi Laurie,
So grateful for how God gives us new life in Him when we repent and receive His life and forgiveness....blessings :)

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much, Norman, for your encouraging comment. Praise God that He came to seek and save the lost! Until we recognize we are sinners in need of a Savior, we cannot be saved.
So glad you found this blog -- welcome & please come again!
God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Donald -- I think that pride keeps so many from accepting Christ, because it means admitting that they can't save themselves. Given the choice between life or death, they sadly choose death because they can't humble themselves regardless of the consequences.
Thanks for your comment & God bless,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Dolly! Praise Him for His mercy & grace!

a joyful noise said...

Thank you for sharing with us here at "Tell Me a Story," your thoughts on triplets of change from death to life. As we come to Christ our natural life is changed from Spiritual death to a new life which is everlasting. Our example and words spoken (and written) will influence others. We may not always see the results here on earth, but God is keeping all the records.

Laurie Collett said...

So true, Hazel -- God sees all, and may all we do glorify Him! Thank you for your lovely comment, for sharing your insight, & for hosting.
God bless,

Adorned From Above said...

Thanks so much for sharing with Wednesday's Adorned From Above Link Party.
Have a great week.
Debi and Charly @ Adorned From Above