I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Revelation 22:13, NLT (Jesus speaking)
Sunday morning I met Thea. Just a day old, tiny and beautiful, she is the first child of our good friends Jeff and Jennifer. Later that afternoon, I joined in the celebration of the life of Isabelle, a colleague who died a few days ago at the age of 97.
It was a day to consider beginnings and ends. As I looked at Thea sleeping next to her mother, I thought back to the day my own children were born. What a miracle that was! What a wonder it was to hold them in my arms and realize that their tiny fingers were the creations of God's own hands, entrusted to me for safekeeping.
It was only at that moment, cradling my children in my arms, that I began to understand something new about God's love for me, about how God sees mewe are much loved children, adopted into God's family, says the apostle Paul, because God loves us.
As I held my own children, I consecrated them to God. I placed their lives in his hands, and prayed that I might be given the love and wisdom I would need to raise them well.
I often tried to look ahead, into the future, but I was unable to imagine the adults they would become. The future was always shrouded in fog, but I was confident that God would touch their lives, as indeed he has. I was confident that he would show them the purposes he had created them for, as indeed he is.
Which is not to say that their lives have been easy. I have had many sleepless nights, hurting with my children in the many difficulties they faced growing up into adults. But God has loved them, and that has made all the difference.
Isabelle seems never to have doubted God's love; she seems to have always known that God made her for a purpose. She lived her life in service to Christ, in praise of Christ. She lived in joy, even in the last years when the deterioration that comes with advanced age placed greater and greater limits on what she could do.
No matter how limited she was, she could always pray. She was a tireless intercessor, day and night laying the needs of God's people before Christ. No matter how limited she was, she could always write poetry in praise of her Lord. She could always sing songs to lift the spirits of those who were hurting. She lived a rich life, a blessed life, and she credited it all to her precious Lord Jesus Christ.
What did Jesus mean when he said "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end"? The Apostle John begins his own gospel with similar words:
In the beginning, the Word already existed. He was with God, and he was God. He was in the beginning with God. He created everything there is. Nothing exists that he didn't make. Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. John 1:1-4, NLT
That last sentence, "Life itself was in him...", suggests that the miracle of childbirth, the final agonized breaths of death, and every nanosecond between the two are all somehow to the credit of Jesus Christ. It is all possible only by the sustaining power and love of Jesus Christ, who is in fact the eternal Creator God.
As Alpha and Omega, Christ is like the great anchorages at either end of the Golden Gate Bridge. They are not there merely to mark the beginning and end of a passage across San Francisco Bay, but in fact they support and hold up the entire span, invisibly making that passage possible. We praise the bridge for its beauty and functionality, but it's those hidden anchorages that keep the whole thing in the air.
Christ has made possible the beginning, and the end, and every nanosecond of our passage in between.
And, there's more. We could rejoice with Isabelle, not only because she lived well, but because she has now received the promise she believed all of her life: she is with Christ. She has seen the one she served and loved. He has welcomed her in love to a new life.
There are many rooms in my Father's home, and I am going to prepare a place for you. I this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. John 14:2,3, NLT (Jesus speaking to his disciples)
In the beginning, at the end, and at every nanosecond in between, Christ sustains the miracle of our lives with his love. That's what Christ claimed. If true, it changes everything, don't you think?
Photo credit: MikeLevin.com