What's the Message?

January 14, 2019


 What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.

 (Ecclesiastes 3:9-13 NLT)

 What’s the Message?

 My friend Brian Stiller sent me a note about the death of writer Lammin Sanneh who influenced us powerfully. I told him that in addition to losing my friend Holger we had just heard of the unexpected death of Ian Elliott. Ian was a friend since 1995 in the Prison Fellowship International family who, with his wife Margaret, generously hosted Susan and me in New Zealand in 2014.

 “What’s the message in this?” he replied. In reviewing 2018 I was grateful for so many things. Our 50th wedding anniversary, Touchstone’s fruitfulness and resources, our personal and family health among other things. A stark contrast to the sorrow.

 I’ve been using a wonderful little book called A Diary of Private Prayer by the late Scottish theologian John Baillie to start my morning prayers. It was a gift to both Brian and me from our mutual friend John Vissers. My response to Brian’s question was an excerpt from one of Baillie’s prayers. It’s the Prayer for Today I offer below.

 A Prayer for Today

 Loving God, “Do not let the vigor and freshness of the morning, or the glow of health, or the present success of my life deceive me into a false reliance upon my own strength. All these good gifts have come to me from you. They are not mine to keep; I am your steward, and only by depending on you, the Giver, can they be enjoyed with integrity.”  . …. For Jesus’ sake