I had a lovely chat with my 30-year-old son last week. He’s in Sydney and I’m in Darwin, so we enjoy a regular catch-up by phone.
I happened to ask him what he’d been reading in the Bible and he told me he has been memorising verses. One that particularly spoke to him was Ecclesiastes 3:11:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
I was impressed by his wisdom as he unpacked what this verse meant to him. He said it reminded him of the scene in the third season of the Netflix series The Crown where Prince Philip is fascinated by the Apollo 11 Moon landing of 1969 and invites the astronauts who made history to visit him at Buckingham Palace.
As a frustrated man of action in his role as Queen’s consort, Philip feels his own life pales in comparison with these heroes and is eager to find out what insights they gained about our place in the universe by seeing the Earth from space and visiting another world.
But the trio, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, all have heavy colds and struggle through the interview, disappointing the Prince, who finds them lacking. He is devastated when they say there were so many technical demands on their time while in space that they didn’t have time to reflect on the larger significance of their experience.
This letdown spurs Philip to turn back to his Christian faith, seeking there the larger purpose to which he feels drawn.
My son saw a parallel here to the way God sets eternity in human hearts – we yearn for something larger than ourselves and yet feel frustrated by being so hemmed in by this shadow world.
I had another experience this week that showed me how my role as mother to my elder son has shifted. I wrote him a birthday card in which I thanked him for all his support during the year. Back in February, he’d asked to come over and talk to us when we were planning to buy an apartment in Darwin without even seeing it. He was concerned not only about the risk to our financial future in retirement but also for me personally, whether I was being railroaded into a dream of my husband’s without my interests being properly taken account of.
I was impressed by his prudence, and grateful for his concern for me beyond my role as mother and wife.
I cherish this season of life with my son, even though when I dream about him he’s often a small boy again.
But once we made the big move to Darwin, he was nothing but super-supportive, wholeheartedly jumping on board with our vision of serving the Lord and spreading Christ’s love in whatever way we could as enthusiastic church members.
So as I expressed my appreciation in his birthday card, it struck me again how our roles have been upended. In the past, he’s been the one to thank me for my motherly love and support in my birthday card. Now he’s the one upholding me.
So yes, God has made everything beautiful in its time. And yet we cannot fathom what He has done from beginning to end. I cherish this season of life with my son, even though when I dream about him he’s often a small boy again. And I miss that impish, energetic little fellow! Yet I appreciate even more the beautiful man he has become.
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.”