Life is full of “firsts” and “lasts”. Our existence consists of beginnings and endings.
More often than not these times are interwoven, running into each other, blending together. Sometimes it’s hard to know where a beginning begins, and an ending ends. Sometimes they are both at the same time. Sometimes they are obvious; other times they are hidden.
Back when I was a young mother I kept journals of my children’s achievements and milestones: their first delightful smiles, the first blessed time of sleeping through the night, that first tooth that finally poked through, those first tottering steps, the exciting first day of school. So many landmarks fill a little one’s life.
As the years multiply, so do our “firsts”… and so do our “lasts”. Often the experiences come with mixed emotions. We realize that time marches forward and life moves on — we shall not pass this way again.
I remember the beginning of our “empty nest” when my eldest son left home to live and work under another roof far away from me. Why would such a glorious new adventure for my son cause my heart to feel such pain? Because our family was changing. I had to let go. It was a beginning for him, and an ending for me.
I remember the day the first of our children got married. I could barely contain my joy and my tears. I watched my second son waiting, with tears in his own eyes, as his beautiful bride and the love of his life walked down the aisle toward him. It was a beginning for him and an ending for me.
I remember the first time my 3rd son drove a car (it was not an automatic!). We spent half an hour jerking along for a few feet, then stalling, then jerking along again as we made our way a short distance down a deserted stretch of country road. For my son, it was the initial taste of the wonderful freedom that having wheels brings to a young man. It was a beginning for him and an ending for me.
I remember my daughter’s first summer job – the excitement, the exhaustion, the questions, the prayers, the maturing. She was spreading her wings in a fresh way and learning how to cope with the world and the people out there. At the end of the 8 weeks she was much more confident in her own abilities and less needful of mine. It was a beginning for her and an ending for me.
Some of the many treasured moments of my life I have penned in a book. Others are recorded only in my heart. Everyone has their own collection of unforgettable moments.
I remember when my father-in-law was fighting leukemia. The children, spouses and grandchildren gathered together with him, on what we all knew was going to be his final Christmas Eve on this earth. It was a precious time as we shared the beloved family traditions one last time.
There are numerous times that we don’t recognize as “lasts” until years later: the last time I enjoyed tea with my grandmother, the last time I tied my little boy’s shoes for him, the last time I held my baby nephew before he passed away.
And there are also those times when we wonder if this will be that “last” time. Will today be the last time I share a laugh-at-nothing-in-particular silly moment with my elderly Mom? Will this be the last time I wave goodbye to my aging Dad at the front door?
The older I get, the more I see that life is a journey. There are many seasons – some good, some not-so-good. Some long, some short. Some easy, some hard. Some we enjoy, some we wish had never happened. But from beginning to end it’s a parade of starts and finishes.
That’s why I try to treasure each person, each day, each experience along the way. Hopefully I learn some valuable lessons. I want to grow into a more loving and appreciative human being. My aim is to become better able to walk with grace and joy through the firsts and the lasts, until there are no more.
Through all the changing scenes of this life, there is one thing I know with absolute certainty: if Jesus is part of my life, no matter what I may face, I am able to find all the peace, security, comfort and hope that I’ll ever need in Him.
Jesus is not only part of each “first” and “last”, He IS the First and Last. He is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 22:13).