Life began at 3:30 p.m. That's when I got home from school. Our life began as we hopped on our bicycles, ran down the hill into the woods to play in the creek, climbed a tree or built a cabin. Even climbing on Indian Rock was great fun at that point in my life.
Life's biggest challenge was playing for keeps, because I took a chance on losing my marbles. Would I play for keeps? Is life for keeps? Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So occasionally I would play for keeps. My cousin was the best shooter I knew. He was in the marble championships in Beckley. He had one of the greatest collections of marbles ever attained. I have all his marbles now, since he has graduated from Earth.
School was just another opportunity to play. It never meant much to me until I went steady with my first girlfriend in the fifth grade. Then life began when I got together with her. On the party line, in the hall at school, at church or wherever we were together, then I was alive. The alarm clock goes off and I wake up to realize that all things good and bad do come to an end. Even life, relationships and friends do eventually end through one way or another. So, is that all there is to this life, or is there more than what meets the eye?
I was staring down at the red carpet in my study when I finally accepted the fact that there is more to life than what we see and what I wanted to see. My friend Diddle O'dell taught me that long ago. When we went to church, Diddle would always call us kids over for a piece of Juicy Fruit or Double Mint. We loved the treats he gave us, but we also loved Diddle. He was different. He didn't have any legs. Diddle had lost his legs in a mining accident and was confined to a wheel chair. I remember that Diddle did finally get a new pair of legs, but to me he didn't need any legs. He was just a great man to be around. Diddle was one of our ushers in our church and I remember one day he called me over to whisper in my ear. Hey Ronnie, would you scratch my feet because they're itching. So how do you scratch a man's feet when he has no legs. There is more to life than we can see. There is the unseen world that we see more and more as we hear the alarm clock and it says wake up. Life here is limited but know this: There is more to life than meets the eye.
Growing up, such things as an unseen world never entered our minds. But I can remember an awakening of sorts. I remember thinking that there was much more to the world than our little coal camp. They put up a sign in the intersection downtown that said Summersville Dam so many miles. I found out real quick that it is not good to say that reversed. So Dad explained to me about the new lake and dam at Summersville and also the importance of saying your words in the proper order.
Things began to take shape in my mind. In college, folks would talk about life, religions and how confusing it all was. My neighborhood friend said that he didn't believe in Jesus because his brother was a Jehovah's Witness. That too, didn't really make a lot of sense because I thought everyone believed in Jesus. Then one day I saw it!
Remember, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: "Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
The mountains in Southern West Virginia have provided some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. I have looked at the bottom of a Hominy Creek waterfall, viewed an untouched stream as it fell some 50 feet to the rocks below, and stared down the gorge of the Gauley River without one cut in the hill or smidge of a touch of anyone other than God. Nothing here can compare to what I see in the unseen world of the Spirit. There is more to life than meets the eye. That's why life is so valuable.
The value of life is not determined by how many days you have left, but by how those days are spent. Remember the dash between our birth date and death says it all. So what does a day cost, or what is it worth? That's how you can determine the value of life. Go into the life store and order up a week or two. Can you pay the price? That was always the big question. Do we have enough money to go buy a candy bar or a bottle of pop? I have learned that things that are old, unique, hand-crafted and valued by others are always more valuable. Actually, the value of a piece is determined by how much someone is willing to pay or trade for it. Remember Jesus paid it all. We did a lot of trading. When we had something we didn't want anymore we would trade it off. You only have one life to live, so don't trade it off for a few moments of fun, but spend it for the future. Look at the unseen world that is to come in just a few short years. After all is said and done, 100 years from now what is really going to matter the most?
I remember visiting a dying man in the hospital and his wife headed everyone off in the hallway so we couldn't get in to see him or talk to him. I don't know if she wanted him all for herself or if she was afraid we might upset him by telling him the truth in love. I asked her if he had hope and she said yes he is going to take treatments and medicine and he is going to make a comeback. I wasn't asking about hope here, but about hope there on the other side of the river. Do you have any? After all, it is an appointment we all will keep. If you have hope of a new tomorrow and eternal life, then your life here becomes so much more valuable. You have something to live and die for.
We are ready to live now and forever because He Lives! Christ Jesus lives today! He walks with me and talks with me along life's narrow way. He Lives! He Lives! I live!