“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.”
- Ecclesiastes 3:1
To me it is the most surreal story ever told. It happened one day when Jesus invited three of his closest pals, Peter, James, and John, to accompany him on a hike up to the top of a mountain. To their astonishment, on that mountaintop stood a couple of Jesus’ old friends from the past, famous men from hundreds of years before, one being Moses and the other Elijah. Suddenly as Jesus chatted with them his appearance began to change, such that, as scripture tells us, “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as light.” For Peter, James, and John, it was like nothing they had ever experienced, beyond any magical moment one could ever imagine, as if time stood still. Peter even suggested they put up shelters so they could all stay there forever, so the moment would never end. It was not to be, though – at least not yet – and Jesus led the three back down the mountain from where they had come.
Have you ever had one of those surreal moments? It happened once for me when we traveled to Italy several years ago with a group of close friends to tour the regions of Tuscany and Umbria. The very first night we were there – tired and jet-lagged, yet full of excitement about the days ahead – we had dinner reservations at a quaint restaurant across from our hotel in the small city of Pietrasanta. What we thought would be a simple meal and an early bedtime turned into one of the most magical evenings any of us had ever experienced. The food, the wine, the ambiance, the people – whatever it was it felt as if time stood still. We wanted to stay there forever. It was not to be, of course.
This past week over lunch I had to bid farewell to my longtime friend, Charlie. Over the years Charlie has been my counselor, encourager, teacher, spiritual advisor, pastor, role model, and confessor. But the time had come that he must move on, to live closer to family as he should, and eventually, I’m sure, to become pastor, teacher, and confessor to others. Except, I did not want him to go. I wanted him to be around forever.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” And one thing I have learned is that just as spring follows winter, so every ending is followed by new beginnings. So it will be for my friend Charlie and me.