For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? (Mark 8:36)
I was no more than ten when I first heard this and understood what it meant. No loss compares with the losing of one’s soul, because it is an eternal loss. The opposite of losing one’s soul is the saving of one’s soul. My soul was saved one night in October 1943, and I have been saved ever since. It was a question the jailer at Philippi wanted to be answered:
And (he)brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31)
God, in His mercy has built into this world a vast number of ways we can suffer loss and often the loss brings us great sorrow. Our loss and our sorrow are meant to draw us to the bosom of God for comfort and assurance. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Birds are well-known to display sorrow when one of their own is hurt or killed. Our picture today is of a bird wailing over the loss of its companion. A friend of ours told of the death of a Blue Jay in their front yard and how other Blue Jays began to fly in and light on the ground beside the dead bird and they all sang a funeral dirge. They sang until it was over and then they dispersed.
Beyond our back yard is a cow pasture of several acres. In the spring, the cows begin to give birth to their calves and everything looks so pretty with the mother’s grazing new grass and the little calves following their mothers and nursing when they please. They grow and pretty soon a calf takes off running with its tail sticking up. The mother is surely pleased with that.
But, one night we hear one of the mother’s bawling. She bawls all night. Her calf has been sold and she has suffered an unbearable loss. God commanded the Jews: When a bullock, or a sheep, or a goat, is brought forth, then it shall be seven days under the dam; and from the eighth day and thenceforth it shall be accepted for an offering made by fire unto the LORD. (Lev 22:27)
When a calf, sheep or goat was born, it was not acceptable to the Lord as an offering. The newborn was to be under its mother, nursing for seven full days. Afterward, it could be removed from the mother and offered as an offering to the Lord. Also, an offspring was not to be seethed (boiled) in its mother’s milk. God decreed that a certain amount of respect was to be given to the animals and the relationship of the mother to her offspring was to be regarded.
So, birds and animals grieve over the loss of their close associates. This causes us to wonder what has happened to a mother when she nonchalantly gives a doctor permission to kill her baby in her womb. A bird and a cow know when they have lost their babies but a human mother does not count the cost of killing her own. I received a call in the middle of the night. A young mother had found my name in the Yellow Pages and called me weeping over the phone: “I can’t sleep. The little ghost is following me into every room.” Yes, that happened. There’s only One who can heal such a broken heart. His name is Jesus.
Another great area of human loss is when we have reached the top of the mountain. The excitement of climbing the mountain is over and, like a spent rocket, we nose over and begin the downward descent. I hesitate to write about this but it needs to be done. Climbing the mountain is in God’s plan. Reaching the top of the mountain is in God’s plan. But, it is also in God’s plan that we descend from top of the mountain. We need the sense of loss to provoke us to think it over.
Some of my best books were found in yard sales. I found a paperback book about reaching the sixties. (I loaned it and it never came home.) At sixty, the great landscape of growing and conquering has changed to a landscape of losing. The children are gone and you can’t boss them around anymore. The house needs a new roof. Some of your friends are sick or dying. You’re not quite sure what the company is going to do with you since you are approaching retirement age. You’re not as excited about going to work as you used to be. “My get up and go has got up and went.” All of it adds up to a sense of loss.
But, some things should have happened to us as we were approaching the top of the mountain. It helps if our thoughts change along with our age. If not, we are in a lot of trouble. Our security? You can live on less after you reach the top of the mountain. By this time, we should have learned that we can only spend a dollar one time. How much is enough?
Paul said: And having food and raiment (clothing) let us be therewith content. (1Ti 6:8) I’ve met some people who have learned that contentment is the real standard of wealth. Are you a thankful person or do you want “just a little bit more?” I heard about one man who said he didn’t want a lot of land. He just wanted what was on the other side of his fence. Envy will not make you happy.
A man who is not truly thankful for his lot in life will always be a poor man. When I was in Jamaica and met with people in the morning for prayer, they sang and praised God and they were all barefooted. On Sunday, the few men who had shoes would carry their shoes to church and put them on when they reached sight of the church. There was no complaining about their poverty. They appeared to be truly content. Are you waiting for some magic day when you will be happy? What has to happen before you have a thankful heart? Are you living in a state of loss and gloom because you have peaked the mountain? God doesn’t want you to live like that.
Sing songs of praise to the Lord! Remember the good days of your life. Didn’t you have chocolate pie at some time in your life? We are happy or sad by the way we think. I prefer to think God’s thoughts after Him and that prevents me from being a thankless grump. I choose to believe what God has told me about my future and it is a bright future! I like songs that spell out my standing with the Almighty:
“How firm a foundation ye saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He hath said, You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled.”
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes; That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake, I’ll never, no, never, no, never forsake!”
I’ve read the last page…..we win!!! Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
October 3, 2017 – TUESDAY
A.M. Isaiah 27-28
P.M. Ephesians 5
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
Great Memory Verses:
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. (1Corinthians 3:6-9)
Song for Today:
When God is Near (Male Quartet – Calvary Memorial Church)
Wait a few seconds. You may have to adjust the volume.