I’m standing on the ruins of an ancient civilization. In northeast Arizona.
Artifacts found at more than 1,000 sites in the surrounding area demonstrate that people lived here for more than 13,000 years. Archeologists call it a “persistent place,” a location where repeated human activity continues through time. But today no one lives here. It is a desolate grassland.
The village stood next to the Puerco River that at the time served as a travel corridor to many people living all along the river. Surrounding the village would have been fields of corn, beans, and squash. The people scratched petroglyphs on the rocks, including an exact marker of the summer and winter solstices.
I imagine a boy and girl playing, a man trudging in from the fields, another carrying fish from the river, women weaving baskets and stirring pots. Normal daily life for them. I close my eyes and can almost hear them calling to one another, laughing, and talking around fires in the evening. All on this very spot. Why did they leave—or die out? What calamity befell them that they couldn’t see coming? How could they have lived here for more than 13,000 years and then disappear?
All gone. Thirteen thousand years of living here. Only ruins left behind.
I wonder at the gravity of it all: Are we so different?
Who do we think we are as a civilization? What do we live for? Our own civilization hasn’t been around for a fraction as long as theirs. And we seem to be on a fast track for wearing out the entire earth.
It makes me think of how temporary we are. And how important it is to live for something beyond ourselves, something eternal. Anything physical will someday be laid waste.
Psalm 103:15-17 (ESV) tells us:
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, …”
We may flourish and have impressive lives, or impressive civilizations. But eventually, we’ll all be gone. And we’ll be forgotten. So the most important thing we can do is have a strong relationship with God. Because we were not put on earth to be remembered. We were put here to prepare for eternity.
Isaiah 40:6 (ESV) echoes the same message:
“… All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
The things we humans have done and made seem so great to us—and in our perspective they are. But as Psalm 103 indicates that our souls live forever, Isaiah 40 indicates that God’s word is the only other thing on earth that lasts forever. Everything else passes away. Everything.
You can’t determine how your civilization lives, but you can decide how you live.
May you firmly grasp how temporary your life is and how essential it is to connect well with God. As you do, may you live well in the face of eternity.
A Child’s Thanksgiving
By: Katherine Britton, crosswalk.com
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10
Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” – 1 Chronicles 29:13
Sometimes it takes a children’s sermon to remind me what’s important. Thanksgiving should be a simple affair, but my adult brain had overcomplicated this heart attitude without much effort. The past few months had been filled with many moments where I had said, “So far, so good” but doubted the future. The provision at hand was enough, to be sure. Yet I wondered if what looked like adequate provision today would diminish over time. I doubted God’s intention to replenish what I used up.
On Sunday, I listened to the children’s sermon with special attention when the kids talked about the Mayflower and the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Each child quickly displayed their knowledge of Pilgrims and Indians – including Squanto – and incredible dynamic that played out that harvest season. Their teacher slowly enlarged their descriptions to include the previous winter’s deaths, the desperately short food supply, the hope of a new planting season, and the summer’s withering drought. By the time harvest rolled around, crops had been gathered in – not in abundance, but certainly sufficient compared to the previous year. The Pilgrims knew it, and reveled in the adequacy of their harvest. Edward Wislow, one of the only primary sources on the day, wrote this about it:
“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week, at which time amongst other Recreations, we exercised our Arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five Deer, which they brought to the Plantation and bestowed on our Governor, and upon the Captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful, as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want, that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
Almost four hundred years later, I stand convicted by Winslow’s words. The man had stared death in the face, and had little idea what future lay in store for the Plymouth colonists. In spite of that, he had literally tasted God’s provision and found himself satisfied. The meal was so filling, he wished that even if “it be not always so plentiful… we often wish you partakers in our plenty.”
I wish I had Winslow’s faith, to happily look at today’s provision and consider each simple wonder. We are “so far from want” in those moments. We serve a faithful God who is more than enough for all of our needs. It’s like the praise song says:
All of You
is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with Your love
And all I have in You
Is more than enough
Editor’s Note: American friends, Election Day is tomorrow and we have the great privilege of making our voices heard. But, more than anything, let’s pray for our leaders… not just today and tomorrow, but regularly!
Enjoy these short prayers from A Prayer for Every Occasion. We hope it helps offer some hope and aids in offering specific prayer to God when praying for our leaders.
Almighty God, only You have eternal power. Any human power is borrowed from You. May all those with authority use it for good and to honor You. — William Tyndale (1494–1536), Adapted
O righteous Lord, You love righteousness. May Your Holy Spirit be with our rulers, that they may govern in faith and honor, striving to put down all that is evil and encourage all that is good. Give Your spirit of wisdom to lawmakers. May they grasp the gravity of the work You have given them to do, that they may not do it lightly. May they put away all wrong and oppression and advance the welfare of all people. — Thomas Arnold (1795–1842), Adapted
God, reveal Yourself to those who have power in this world. Help them behold Your glory and humble themselves before You. Build their faith in You; grow their love for Your ways and grow their love for the people they represent. Give them wisdom and discernment; make them pure-hearted, respectful, diligent, and conscientious. Save them from selfishness, pride, corruption, and hardheartedness. May they honor You by honoring those they serve, treating them with dignity and kindness. May they lead with prudence and love, cultivating justice and mercy. Help them persevere in doing what is right in Your eyes, both privately and publicly. Bless and help these stewards of great responsibility, Lord. Weave them into Your kingdom work and use them to carry out Your purposes. — C. M.
O Lord our Governor, bless the leaders of our land, that we may be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth. Lord, keep this nation under Your care…. Send down upon those who hold office the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people. — Book of Common Prayer
Almighty God, all thoughts of truth and peace proceed from You. Kindle in the hearts of all people the true love of peace. Guide every leader in every nation in Your pure and peaceable wisdom, so that Your Kingdom may go forward, till the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of Your love. — Francis Paget (1851–1911), Adapted