by Pastor Gene
There’s a real danger in moving through life too fast. When we do, we miss people that God wants us to see. We miss the blessings He’s given us to enjoy this very day. And, sadly, by the time we realize what we’ve missed, it’s often too late.
Someone sent me a meme a while back that showed a picture of a bench. And it asked the question: ‘If you could spend 30 minutes on this bench with anyone who’s ever lived, who would it be?’ I was fascinated by that question. I think there’s a tendency for us to spiritualize the answer and say, ‘Jesus,’ or ‘Paul,’ or some other biblical figure. But for many of us, we’d probably choose someone who we love and who is no longer with us. For me it might be my dad. I think I’d like to show him pictures of my grandchildren – his great-grandchildren – and tell him that me, my brother and sister turned out OK.
It’s an interesting thing to think about, right? As I did, I found myself considering all the times I missed when I could have shared a bench with my dad. I could have talked to him about anything, enjoyed his company. But I was moving through life pretty fast back then. Too fast, in retrospect. And as we’re flying through life in a blaze of speed, we always kind of assume that there’ll always be tomorrow. But that’s simply not true. In fact, the Bible calls such ‘boasting about tomorrow’ evil.
Proverbs 27:1 warns: “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.” Tomorrow is not promised to any of us, and God wants us to live our lives mindful of that truth. James said much the same thing. “Come now,” he wrote, “you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’ – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (James 4:13-17).
Besides that, I think we have to be honest and admit that as we fly through the day at the speed of life, one Person who we often neglect is the Lord Jesus himself, who desperately desires our fellowship! He wants us to “walk in the light as He is in the light” so that we might “have fellowship with one another” (1 John 1:7).
- How would you answer the ‘bench’ question? Who would you share it with? Why, over everyone else, would you choose that person?
- Who might you share a bench with now, while you’re still able to do so? Be honest: has traveling at the ‘speed of life’ left you neglecting anyone?
- Has life kept you too busy to prioritize your fellowship with Jesus? To sit at His feet and listen – what Jesus called the one “necessary” thing? Revisit the story of Martha and Mary in Luke 10:38-42. Do you remember Jesus’ words to busy Martha? He said, “You are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” Indeed, many things may be important, but only one thing is absolutely essential: sitting at the Savior’s feet and listening to Him.
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Although a couple of people come to mind, I think I’d like to share it with my great-grandmother. She died when I was living overseas, and I was crushed at the fact that I was so far away and unable to travel. Although I did spend time with her while growing up, as a young adult, i never really expressed how much she truly meant to me. She was always loving, and ever accepting and supportive of everything I did, and every choice I made. I know she knew my love for her, but I wish I had expressed how deep and complete that love was.
I would love to see my Dad again. Also, tell him about his grandchildren, great grandchildren. He was a very spiritual man and when he was near death he also told us how he saw Jesus and had conversations with Him. He was a wonderful man.
Wow oh wow I relate to this being not only full time employed but gramma/Mom all week to a 4 year old we are never ending going going going. When he first came to our home it felt like our world was in the midst of a hurricane and I will be honest at that time just surviving each day was a challenge. At that time prior I was doing daily bible readings and devotional and in my blurred craziness that slowly diminished. A coworker commented that I was feeling bad about it but Logan was my ministry that I was living the Bible out through him loving him and taking care of his trauma. I can honestly say in the scope of looking back now I don’t know how we survived only through the grace of God and our church family lifting us up in prayer. But in saying this I have let this busyness take over – time to rectify this and what a perfect time for this new focus. God has given me new fresh eyes to see this experience and also how to see through a child’s eye and heart. I have always been “Martha” but I need to choose the only needed thing!!!!!!
I should have answered the question also who would I sit with very contemplative question with many choices – choice 1 my brother born before me who died after birth with name baby Blanchard or my grandfather Freddy Beausoliel who I never knew he died of TB or my sister Holly who left this earth sept if 1999 leaving two children and a husband at age of 33 – if I could split my time theee ways I would.
I would jump at the chance to sit with my grandmother. She modeled the unconditional love of Christ to me in my formative years. In her home it was safe to be a child. Her life was unhurried. She gave all she had, which wasn’t much by the world’s standards. Although she never completed high school or even drove a car, she was the wealthiest woman I’ve ever known. Prayer was a daily essential. The contentment and joy I experienced in her care was priceless. It would be wonderful to be able to thank her and and feel her embrace one more time.
For me, it would be two. First, my mother for she had such a simple faith in Christ, uncomplicated with the winds of doctrine. It’s one thing to know the word of God, as critical as that may be, but it’s another thing to know the One of whom the Bible speaks, and that was how she impressed me. The other is Helen P., my spiritual mother: she had the heart of an evangelist who came to our New York City neighborhood and brought many to the Lord. Shortly afterward, the Lord called her home and I never got a chance to know her and thank her.
Since my dear mother-in-law passed away, I have thought a lot about spending time with the people God has put in my life. I tend to be a task oriented person, and I can easily lose sight of the precious relationships God has called me to cultivate. We have been blessed to regularly see my son and his wife every two weeks for a day of fellowship (and laundry!) While my mom and dad are in Rhode Island, I try my best to see them once a week. My daughter and I hit the gym together at least three times per week–sounds strange, but those are some of the most memorable, wonderful times we have spent together. I see her being gracious to others using the equipment, I see her smiling at others struggling to complete their exercises, I see her quietly sharing her faith and her love for Christian music with our trainer. For most everyone, these are easy priorities to set and keep. But, like Mr. Campbell, my engine is always revving and I am always seeking to accomplish my own personal best time at the task at hand. (With the exception of driving, I will leave that record to my husband to beat!) When I think about the bench, while it is nice to imagine sitting with my grandmother who has gone to be with the Lord, I am instead going to consider who I can sit with this week. But first, I’ll bring the question to Jesus…
For me, I would love to spend time on the bench with my Dad who passed 1 1/2 years ago. He was always there for me and we spent many days together enjoying quality time talking about fixing things, working on the house, the leaves, fishing, etc. He lived to almost 90 and I am lucky to have had a great Dad that the bond between us was deep. I know he is in God’s home but I still miss him.
For me the bench is not about who I have loved and miss due to their passing. For those loved ones always knew how much I loved them.. I never missed a chance to tell them how much I loved them and how much I valued them. I am very passionate about expressing love and thanks to my family and friends. As a mom…30 minutes on a bench with my daughter to tell her what I tell her everyday that I love her and I am blessed to be her Mom would make me happy.
As far as sharing a bench now with someone….I brought Lou to the park. We sat on a bench by the water. Our discussion revolved on being grateful to get out, to take time, to enjoy nature and have someone to share it with.. So blessed!!!
Lou and Karen
I love this blog post it is reflective and requires action at the same time. I would love to spend time on the bench with both my grandfathers. My mom’s dad whom I called Pa died when I was 12 and I was crushed. He showed me and my brother and sister unconditional love and was stricken with a heart attack at age 64. I never got to say goodbye to him and my life traumatically shifted from that one event. My dad’s dad died before I was born and I know of him through pictures and stories the family has told. Unfortunately stories I was told as a child turned out to be filled with many opinions and not many facts. I would like to ask him myself and see what kind of faith he had. I will spend some time thinking about who I would like to share the bench with this week.
Who from the past? Definitely my mom. She passed away in the mid-90’s. From the time I was about 12 (when I first started drinking coffee!) we would sit on the front porch, watching the neighbors. 30 minutes wouldn’t be enough,though, to tell her all that’s happened in my life…all the kids, open heart surgery, struggles and victories.
As for now, I need a longer bench. I know kids spell “love” T-I-M-E. I need to find that bench-time daily…one a day(?).
Teri and I sometimes go to Oakland beach and just sit on the bench there, watching the waves or the sunset. Words aren’t always necessary. I like that bench…
The speed of life? Most of my day is trying to just keep up…I guess sleep is really over-rated, anyway…;-)
I would love to spend that time with my first wife who passed on to the Lord March 12, 1976. We were married for 8 years and 2 months and I am convinced she came to salvation less than 2 weeks before the Lord took her home. I know we will see each other when my time comes. It was through that experience that I was born again 6 days later on the 18th. My life was fast paced then with 2 little girls to raise and work,etc. I did get involved with different ministries and outreach. Fortunately, as I have matured, I have come to realize the importance of seeking the Lord’s guidance in striving to be the best steward of my time.
I would spend time on the bench with my mom. She was 25 when she passed away, leaving a 5 year old (me), 4 year old, 3 year old, a new born and a bewildered husband to raise his 4 daughters. I vaguely remember sitting on her lap and her singing to us. I don’t know if she knew the Lord, but the few times I was able to visit with my maternal grandmother at a young age, I remember seeing a picture of Jesus and my grandmother telling me that my mom was now with Jesus. My dad was ALWAYS racing at the speed of light. He was BUSY trying to be mom and dad to us and do the things that it normally takes TWO people to do! I know he loved me even though he wasn’t able to spend a lot of time with us as kids. I was so blessed to have him live with Steve and me for the last few years before he went to be with Jesus. I, too, tend to be task oriented and driven. I come to the point of being drained, realize where and to whom I need to go for refreshment of my soul and spirit, turn from my rushed and harried ways, feel refreshed, just to ever so gradually, slip right back to my rushed ways. (Romans 7:15) Prayer with a thankful heart is always my priority, but I don’t spend nearly enough time with the ONE who knows my weaknesses and loves me just the same! (No, I don’t mean Steve – but who could blame me for wanting to spend more quality time with him, too!)
I would definitely choose time on the bench with my daughter, Sarah, who left us way too soon at the age of 15. There was so much left for her to experience. I feel as though I was almost always intentional about quality time with her, never knowing how long we would have. But I would love to be able to share my love of Christ with her and to let her know that He has been by rock and steadfast comfort in the wake of her death. She was so worried about ME in her last days….imagine?
I am going to be intentional NOW about sitting on the bench a little longer with the precious elderly folks I visit every week. They are so full of stories and history and rich experiences. They are so often shoved under the rug because everyone is so “busy”. I won’t be too busy. And I pray that Jesus will join us on the bench at each encounter!
I think way back when I was 17, rebellious against my farther, he laid dying of cancer.
After when he died I searched for the meaning of life. I found Jesus! I would long for an opportunity to sit on the bench to tell him about his saving GRACE.
For me the bench I would love to sit there with my older brother Luke he died in 1989 unexpectedly while painting a house him and another guy where electricuded I can still remember that so clear and some day we will meet again so I can just give him a hug I just thank God for coming into my life because I know I wouldn’t be here today
Love you Marc I know how much this hurt not saying goodbye to your only brother.
This seems to have struck me a bit differently than most. Yes, of course as I considered the people that have crossed my path and moved on from this world there are some that I would like to spend a bit more time with — my precious father-in-law for one. But I kept coming back to people that I never had the chance to meet. People that, in spite of that fact, have encouraged and inspired me in some way. People like Elizabeth Elliott, C.S. Lewis, Corrie Ten Boom and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. People that I may not have spent time with face-to-face but I have nevertheless spent time with – reading and learning about their life stories and the impact they made on the lives of others. Being a bit of a history buff, a jock and lover of “overcomer” stories, I settled on sharing my bench with Louis Zamperini. Louie, if you don’t know his story, was a a US prisoner of war survivor in World War II, a Christian evangelist and an Olympic distance runner. He lived an amazing life and I would love to hear about it all from him first-hand while we shared a bench.
As for someone to share some time with now, it would have to be my sons. I know,… I know,… it’s supposed to be one person for 30 minutes! But how is a mother to choose? In my case, that 30 will have to be divided into 10 mins alone with each one. They are all living such busy lives now that it is difficult to even connect with them with a phone call once a week. I have commented to Scott several times during this series that I feel like we are living in the second half of the Harry Chapin Song, “Cats in the Cradle”. So my choice for my precious half hour would be to spend it with my three guys in deep, meaningful conversation … or maybe just talkin’ about the Celts and Pats.
I would sit with my daddy whom I lost at the tender age of 8 1/2 years old. As someone else put in their blog “my life shifted dramatically. 🤣 I missed out on him walking me down the aisle on my wedding day, giving me advice about the man that I would marry (knowing that he would fully approve of my sweet Daniel!) Knowing that he would’ve loved his granddaughters Leah and Melissa and his great-granddaughter’s Brielle and Tahlia! I’m trying to live every day for Jesus knowing that he puts people in my life for a reason. I’m trying to expand those opportunities to witness to them. To share his love! Not one of us can take for granted that we will have even the rest of today let alone tomorrow. After all my life is not my own as Scripture teaches. I want to hear him say well done good and faithful servant!