….AND THE CURTAIN CLOSES…..

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A very famous man once said “All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,

And one man in his time plays many parts,

His acts being seven ages.

At first, the infant,

Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms,

Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel

And shining morning face, creeping like snail,

Unwillingly to school.

And then the lover,

Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad,

Made to his mistress’ eyebrow.

Then a soldier,

Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,

Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel,

Seeking the bubble reputation

Even in the cannon’s mouth. And then the justice,

In fair round belly with good capon lined,

With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,

Full of wise saws and modern instances;

And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts

Into the lean and slippered pantaloon,

With spectacles on nose and pouch on side;

His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide

For his shrunk shank, and his big manly voice,

Turning again toward childish treble, pipes

And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,

That ends this strange eventful history,

Is second childishness and mere oblivion,

Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” (William Shakespeare : As you like it Act II Scene VII)

What it all boils down to, ladies and gentlemen, is that we ALL have our “15 minutes upon the stage” and then we are done….period…finitum…end of story.

We all know we are going to die the first moment we draw breath, and yet somehow over the years we seem to forget it is all a time clock ticking away.

In our youth we think we are invincible…that we will live forever. In our younger years we think we have all the time in the world, and can do what we want without ever having to pay the piper.

In our middle years, we suddenly realize “My God, I have to DO something…something I will be remembered for” and then we press onward with a slow sense of timing, delaying that thing we want to leave to future generations…that house..that car…that inheritance.

By the time we reach our later years we are impressed with a sudden sense of urgency, as if squandering our lives away we can suddenly DO all those things we wished we had done, but did not do because of other flights of fancy.

Then the “Golden Years” hit us..*WHAM*!…and we realize that all we really did was mark time, doing meaningless things, until our bodies will no longer do what we had once hoped to do.

I know, I know…gloomy proposition, right?

What does it all mean? Well, from a perspective of someone who HAS done all those things he wished to do BEFORE the clock stopped ticking, or the body stopped being functional, I can tell you this: IT ALL BOILS DOWN TO FAITH.

Yep…FAITH.

We know our end will come…but we NEVER know WHEN.

Imagine the disappointment of all those people not knowing WHEN it will happen. I myself have been to “the doorway” several times, and let me tell you…IT SCARES THE CRAP OUTTA ME.

Where am I going with all of this?

Well, Faith is the defining marker of a person’s life. Yes. …quit shaking your head…I will explain.

When we leave, the only thing we can take with us is our faith…the only thing we can leave to our children, our faith…the only GOOD thing some will be able to say for us: They were a strong person of faith.

Faith gives us hope…and HOPE can give our feet wings to DO those said things BEFORE we become useless in our own frames.

Faith can build our bridges, (or burn them)..it can give us relief from despair (or build it)… it can ensure that what we ‘were’ will be remembered long after we are gone.

Faith give us a goal…something to look forward to, and something to strive for.

Faith gives us morals, scruples, honor, a sense of belonging, and guidance for our lives so that they are NOT wasted.

In today’s world I see some denying faith…saying “God does not exist” or “God has forgotten us”…silly people, wake up and realize He has not forgotten ANYTHING.

“The LORD remembers us and will bless us.” – Psalm 115:12a

“See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” – Isaiah 49:16a

God is up there…watching to see what each and every one of us does with our days He has given us…and in the end, we must account for our lives.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” – 2 Corinthians 5:10

So…some may say “Why worry if our time comes?”…oh don’t even get me started on that one.

I do not care what faith you follow, EVERY faith has an “End of Days”…yes, an ending of the world…but what about the PERSONAL world? YOUR world?

Just because “The Rapture” has not happened, or Ragnarok, or The Apocalypse, does not mean YOUR world will not suddenly end….no one knows WHEN it could happen!

You could be sleeping, or eating, or just vegging out in front of the television, and *BOOM*…gone.

So..what keeps you from despair? What keeps your hands busy and your feet moving? FAITH.

With faith in your life you FILL your life..you LIVE your life….not for a moments pleasure, or a week worth of memories, but a LIFETIME of them.

Let us say you manage to make it to old age…you are sitting there in your chair because your legs no longer propel you as they once did…what do you have? YOUR MEMORIES…AND YOUR FAITH IN WHAT IS TO COME…yep.. and do you think you will sit there wallowing in the memory of how you once drank a case of beer at the park? Nope..you will want to be remembering those days with your loved ones…the places you went…the people you met….and WHERE you want to go from there.

And when “The End” comes, do you think God will sit there and say “How many beers?” …no…He will say “What did you do for others?” and “Why did you not believe Me when I told you I was there?”

“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Mark 13:32

Faith compels us to reach for the golden ring…it drives us to help others, thereby generating memories in others of US. Faith helps us through losses in our lives, reminding us that WHERE they have gone and WHOM they are with, and how we too can see them again should we continue to have faith in God’s promises.

Faith, boys and girls..it all comes down to faith.

For those WITHOUT faith in an afterlife, or a heaven, or rebirth (or whatever faith tells you there is) they are like walking dead people. Oh sure, they SEEM happy, but are they? They shuffle around, trying vainly to fill that empty void in their souls with drink, or pleasures, or goods. Does it work? Nope. They all end up old and worn out and regretful of life, and what happened.

When they get older, and time encroaches upon them like a fog rolling in, do you think they will say “Yep…filled this life…oh well, sorry it had to end”..? Or will they say “Oh crap…now what?”…fear of what comes next seems a distance dream to some…but take it from me, regret is a VERY scary prospect to look forward to.

Oh yes, the old saying “There are no atheists in foxholes” comes to mind…suddenly they find faith in the dotage, but sadly, it may be too late for that.

Faith is for some the only thing they CAN leave to their children (besides debt). A person who passes their faith along to the next generation gives them HOPE…something that is uniquely THEIR’S and THEIR’S alone.

It does not matter if it is church faith, or simple belief in a higher power…it gives them the hope they WILL see you again one day, and helps guide their morals and philosophies in life according to what faith they have.

The greatest thing I will leave behind, and what people will remember me for is my unwavering faith in my Master…they may MOURN my leaving, but they know WHERE I have gone and to WHOM I will be prostrating myself so that I can enter His Kingdom.

They will not remember I was a whizz at Scrabble…nor that I made a KILLER cup of tea…or that I could quote ALL SIX Star Wars movies verbatim…no…they will remember how my FAITH ensured that they had the help they needed..that my faith in THEM was strong enough to give THEM faith in THEMSELVES.

See…it is a legacy…a gift…an inheritance…and it is MEANT to be given. I give of myself because I have faith in them…they in turn give of themselves BECAUSE of that faith I have instilled in them. And if all goes properly, then that faith will fill them like a thirsty cup and run over onto others long after my time on this stage has ended.

If there is one thing I wish to leave you all with…one set of “He said that”…it is this: Find faith. Find a faith YOU can believe in… Even if you do not find a church, find God…keep Him in your heart, forefront in your mind, and stay on the path…because if you do, someday we will meet across an open field and I will run to you with my arms wide open.

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