I’m sure most people can still remember their first day of college, I know I can. Moving your stuff into the dorm, sizing up your roommates, awkwardly trying to decide whether you should tell your parents to leave or keep them around for just a bit longer. There was even a moment during it all when I looked out a window at the campus and wondered,
“Will this place really be my home for the next four years? What will happen during that time? Who will I become?”
To a freshman like myself, four years seemed like an eternity, but it passed in the blink of an eye. Oddly enough though, I have a harder time picturing my graduation. I think it’s because humans, in general, prefer to dwell on beginnings instead of endings. Beginnings are filled with hope and the promise of something new. Endings, on the other hand, tend to have a brutal finality to them; sorry, game over, pick your coats up at the door.
Still, just because we don’t like thinking about them doesn’t mean they aren’t significant. In a recent piece for Desiring God, author Jon Bloom reflected on how important it was for Christians to “end well”. This could refer to leaving a legacy once we’re gone, knowing when to pass on responsibility, or even how to step down, like Timothy Keller did just this week. This ability to accept endings, as Bloom argues, is a virtue many Christians have failed to cultivate. He writes,
“For every ‘time to seek,’ there is ‘a time to lose’ (Ecclesiastes 3:6). Learning to end well, to let go well, is one of the most neglected subjects in Western Christian discipleship. There’s little teaching and guidance for navigating these tricky waters. Perhaps it’s no surprise that Christian leaders frequently struggle to step out of leadership, and churches struggle with leadership transitions, and Christians, in general, frequently experience confusion and disorientation at the end of various seasons of life and ministry.”
“There will be a God-given time to exit every role we enter. Some endings will feel sweet and clear; some will feel bitter and confusing. Therefore, it requires a different kind of wisdom to end well than to begin well. It demands Spirit-wrought humility and Spirit-empowered faith to trust God’s sovereignty, wisdom, and goodness in those transitions.”
Scripture has a very different view of endings than we do. The book of Ecclesiastes teaches us there is a time for everything, a season which all life must go through.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-3
Even death, which our culture fears as the ultimate end, is merely the beginning of the true story. As believers, we must teach ourselves how to approach each chapter of life as God intends. It may be tempting to cling to the past in hopes of prolonging what we love, but no student can remain at college forever. Eventually, we must take the things we’ve learned and walk boldly out into the world. For God did not create us to be stagnant creatures, but to discover new mercies every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
What about you? What are your thoughts on beginnings and endings? Be sure to leave a comment in the space below!
*Ryan Duncan is an Editor at Crosswalk.com
(Image courtesy of Thinkstock)