The mystery of life


By Betty Slade | PREVIEW Columnist

 Life is a paradox and a mystery. To live is to die. The older I get, things become clearer to me. 

Spring is finally here. Over the weekend, we surveyed the shadow of that which the harsh winter left behind. Dry branches strewn across our acreage. A large cottonwood, trunk and limbs, sprawled every which way in our yard.

The strong winds pulled down life and limb to make room for a new season. We examined the surviving trees, planted the year before. We measured their new growth and the flexibility of their living branches. Death had come in order to bring life.

Constant awareness has been a long process of learning and reflecting on life in general. Yet, at the end of our days, we can say without doubt the mystery of life seems contradictory and opposes common sense and yet is true. Life is a paradox at best.

In our younger days, we were gangbusters, engaged with excitement and strength in whatever came our way. Now we step back and enjoy the increase of the rewards of life and are amazed as to the contentment gained in what we don’t have.

“Even in decline, the virtuous increase the beauty of their behavior. A burning stick, though turned to the ground, has its flame draw upward.” — Sakya Pandita.

I think back to a season when I was like a dead tree standing on the top of a hill for all to see, my branches stripped shamedly naked in freezing winter. I stood alone, judged by the naysayers. No one could understand the toil of my soul, “The enemy of my enemy was my friend.”

During those years, the winter of my soul, the Lord constantly reminded me that those pretty leaves that waved so brilliantly in the sun were sapping me dry. As the leaves crumpled from green to dry, brittle yellow and dark red, falling to the ground was necessary.

My faith identified me as to whom I belonged and in whom I believed, but was now tearing me down and bringing me to nothing. Such a paradox, my roots grew strong and deep, drinking water from that hidden cistern, only where the spirit knows. Outwardly, it seemed I was dying, but, inwardly, I was becoming fortified and who I was meant to be in Him.

During those years, when my soul felt totally undone, I heard judgment from those who did not understand and they measured me by their lack of what they knew about life.

But even when we are swept away by religious notions, they, too, must fall to the ground. When we were young, our limbs full of fruit were our delight, and we waved to let everyone know we were there. With study and sermon, our consciences were being formed. Then we came to years of learning social behavior. But, one day, we will limp into the season of our last days, marked with wisdom, loving life without fear of death.

As I read from Colossians 2:16-19 (TPT), I was taken back by familiar scripture, which I once glossed over. Today, I embrace it with total understanding: “So why would you allow anyone to judge you because of what you eat or drink, or insist that you keep the feasts, observe new moon celebrations, or the Sabbath. All these were but a prophetic shadow and the evidence of what would be fulfilled, for the body is now Christ.

“We receive directly from him, and his life supplies vitality into every part of his body through the joining ligaments connecting us all as one. He is the divine Head, who guides his body and causes it to grow by the supernatural power of God.”

When John, the voice from the wilderness, claimed he must decrease in order that Jesus might increase, his flames grew upward as his life turned downward. His words did not seem as exciting to the world as when he said, “Behold the lamb, who takes away the sin of the world,” but his assurance and faith had become tried and true in his short life as he surrendered to the lamb.

Final brushstroke: We are learning the paradox of younger years and older days. Winter is giving way to spring. The material life is giving way to the spiritual. We surrender to the mystery of the revelation of this season. We must live this season wholeheartedly in order to understand the relationship that God craves to have with us. He knows what He must do in order to draw us to Himself. 

Views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN.