One day this past week, while washing my face, I noticed a light-colored eyebrow hair. Upon further inspection, I saw that it was a gray hair. Excitedly, I texted my family and friends and shared the good news… and of course, they all called me weird for rejoicing in the arrival of a gray hair.
But they don’t understand; I’m from Baltimore City, Maryland.
I’m from (C)harm City.
I’m from Bmore, Muurland.
I’m from the city of Bmore Careful.
I’m from the home of The Wire.
I’m from a city where my friend, who is a teacher, had to bury three of her high school students within the past six months.
I’m from a city that killed several of my old schoolmates before they ever saw my current age.
I’m from a city that, though small in size and population, ends every year with over 300 homicides.
I’m from Bodymore, Murderland.
I am from Baltimore, Maryland.
In my reality, living to acquire gray hair is not a right, promise, or guarantee- it is a gift and privilege that few receive. So, yes, I rejoice and I text everyone when I see a new gray hair because it means that I have lived long enough to acquire it. I happily await the day when all of my body hair will convert to its lighter, gray color. To me, when that day comes, it will mean that God saw fit to allow me to roam this earth long enough to share His good news with many, many people. Getting gray to means me a true gift of life from God. But if God calls me sooner than that day, I can still rest in the fact that I would have accomplished all that He needed me to do in my time here.
Death is inevitable and purposed.
Life is precious and purposed.
As I prepare for the funeral of my 50something year old uncle who was found dead in his home earlier this month, my mind can’t help but travel to thoughts of life and death. While I personally hate hearing Ecclesiastes 3 at funerals because it is so over used, I must admit that there is so much truth in its words. (Read below with me from the New International Version)
1 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
9 What do workers gain from their toil? 10 I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. 12 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. 14 I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him.
15 Whatever is has already been,
and what will be has been before;
and God will call the past to account.
16 And I saw something else under the sun:
In the place of judgment—wickedness was there,
in the place of justice—wickedness was there.
17 I said to myself,
“God will bring into judgment
both the righteous and the wicked,
for there will be a time for every activity,
a time to judge every deed.”
18 I also said to myself, “As for humans, God tests them so that they may see that they are like the animals. 19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. 20 All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. 21 Who knows if the human spirit rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?”
22 So I saw that there is nothing better for a person than to enjoy their work, because that is their lot. For who can bring them to see what will happen after them?
At funerals we typically stop at verse 8 but I chose to highlight the whole chapter because sometimes we need to go beyond what we are accustomed to in order to find God.
The author (debated to have been King Solomon) is saying that there is a specific time for everything to happen in and on this earth that will happen. Some may find confusion or discomfort in verses 18-22 but know this, as sure as we were born, death will eventually come our way. We should not worry about the when and how, but instead focus on the now. What are we doing in the in between time of our life? Our obituaries and/or tombstones will have a beginning year, a dash, and then an ending year- what are we doing during that “dash time”?
Are we serving God?
Are we loving His children?
Are we sharing His good news throughout the world?
Were we patient, kind, and honest?
Did we put God first in all that we did?
Were we faithful to God?
Did we serve no other God but Him?
What did we do with our dash time?
While we may not understand or appreciate God’s timing, there is a purpose for it all. As I look at the gray hair that appeared in my left eyebrow, I can rejoice because I know that God had a specific reason for sending it at this time. I would have chosen for this gray hair to be in the middle of my eyebrow, with a few friends next to it to keep it company however, its location and timed arrival serves a much greater purpose to God than my human mind will ever be able to understand. And that’s okay.
Beloved, is there something or someone who has arrived in your life at a time and in a way that you just can’t seem to understand? Fear not because God’s timing is perfect and there is a purpose for it all.
While we have time on this side, let us not worry about the how, why, or when but instead focus on God. And while we focus on God, let us rejoice in all that He sends (the good and the bad), even if we don’t understand its purpose immediately.
There is joy in living…
There is joy in trusting…
There is joy in getting gray…