The other morning before I crawled out of bed, I checked the time on my small clock radio. As I did, I found myself asking, “How old is this clock anyway?” I remember buying it when I moved to Detroit. That was in 1993. So that clock has been keeping time, playing music, and waking me up for 23 years.
I reflected on other things in my life that have lasted. I have a bright pink sweatshirt that a friend gave me about 30 years ago. Just imagine how many washings it has withstood and yet it’s still good enough to wear. My sister still uses a pan and a lid that my mother got at her wedding shower in 1937. And I still use a white hand towel my mother bought for her trousseau. It’s very precious to me because my mother herself crocheted the pretty pink border along its edges.
I met a Christmas cactus once that should get some award for longevity. It belonged to my mother’s friend, Tillie, who was 95. She had gotten that plant for her 15th birthday, so it was 80 years old! Other things in nature last a long time too. A certain whale was once washed up on shore with a part of a harpoon stuck in him. The harpoon was 150 years old—so how old was that whale? And tortoises last a long time too. One was documented to be over 255 years old. And there’s a sequoia tree in California that is (drum roll please!) over 3,500 years old! That means it was already about 1500 years old when Jesus walked this earth!
There’s more. The house I live in was built in 1848. That’s old by American standards—but it’s nothing compared to some buildings in other parts of the world. While visiting the Czech Republic, I toured a village built in the 16th Century. One building used to be a Jesuit school. Today it’s a bank, but the fact remains, that building is still being used!
My musings led me to reflect on other things that have lasted in my life that I sometimes take for granted, but for which I am very grateful—like friendships… family… faith… love. We tend to celebrate love that lasts a long time. At my sister’s parish, once a month at the end of Mass the priest and congregation bless couples who have a wedding anniversary that month. (They also pray for single parents, the widowed, and the divorced.) Each couple stands and tells how long they’ve been married. Last time I was there, one couple stood up and said they were married for 71 years! I was amazed they both could still stand up! Love that lasts for a long time is the most amazing thing of all, isn’t it?
Throughout scripture we are told that one characteristic of God’s love is this: it lasts. In Exodus we read: “The Lord (is) a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations” (Ex. 34:6). Other translations say God is “steadfast in love” or “loyal in love.” The psalms too sing of God’s everlasting love. I’m particularly fond of Psalm 118 which repeats over and over again, “God’s love endures forever.”
The New Testament too proclaims God’s everlasting love for us. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” Then there’s Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. And his tender words in Luke 12:32: “Fear not, little flock.” Why not? Because God loves us so much! I believe these words are especially needed today when so many of our headlines seem to be saying, “Fear! Fear!”
Today I suggest you take an inventory of the things that have lasted in your life. Start perhaps with specific things you use regularly—from your heirlooms to your knees! Then pray and thank God for those relationships that have lasted a long time, the ones that give support and nourishment for your life’s journey. And finally, let us thank God for God’s great love for us, a love that is steadfast, loyal, and yes, ever-lasting.
This song celebrates God’s everlasting love for us as individuals and as members of God’s family. It’s called “You Are Mine” and was written by David Haas. As you listen to or sing along with this song, hear God saying these words to you personally:
What has lasted in your life?
How have you personally experienced God’s everlasting love?
Did any words in this song speak to you today?
PS: I helped with a retreat last weekend at St. Paul’s Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. I want to thank the many women who planned and participated in the lively event. I was inspired by their faith and goodness!