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Thursday, April 13, 2023

Lebanon Reservoir dam
The water spilling over the Lebanon Reservoir Dam has a nice artistic pattern. The sound of the falling water also provides a natural calming effect making it hard to walk away.
Click on photo to enlarge

"The Time Of Departure"

Message summary: Is your heart right with God? Have you accepted His glorious provision for your sin problem? Are you waiting for Him?

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“I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1:9b). "The time of my departure has come" (2 Timothy 4:6). “Just as man is destined to die…”  (Hebrews 9:27a)

On Tuesday we took a bike ride near Swatara State Park in northern Lebanon County (actually we may have also been in a portion of Schuylkill County). My goal was to see the dam for the Lebanon Reservoir. So we weren't on a rail trail but a remote country road leading back to the dam.

We arrived at the bottom of the dam as seen in our lead photo. There was a very steep paved road leading up to the dam. I wanted to see the lake view so I headed up but very quickly realized my electric bike wouldn't do it. Brooksyne zipped right past me and made it all the way to the top on pedal assist, though she was out of breath from the heavy duty pedaling!

I was still determined to make it to the top so I walked up, along with my very heavy electric bike. The last time I had a workout like that was last fall when I climbed the last several yards up Mount Washington in a blizzard to the summit. We drove up most of it to a parking area near the top.

I'm not a young man anymore and realize my time is coming but hope to be active either to or near my end. Now of course I want to use sense and caution but I told Brooksyne and Ester afterwards that if I died doing something active which I enjoy doing that was OK with me.

My brother shared an interesting experience that happened ten years ago in a church near Easton PA where he lives. A seventy-two year old man was standing before the congregation giving a promotional talk for Sunday School when he had a massive heart attack, slumped over and died. That’s a service people are sure to remember and hopefully a stimulus to be ready to meet God. As my brother and I talked we considered the blessing of a seventy-two year old still active in the service for the Lord and how his final message was more than likely his most effective.*

Let us consider a spiritual application Paul wrote to Philemon “I then, as Paul–an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus”. The Greek word for "old man" here, presbytēs, is used for men between 50 and 56 years old. Paul’s age might explain why he relied on Onesimus’ help.

In 2 Timothy Paul acknowledges that “the time has come for my departure” (v.6). Most interpret this “time of departure” to mean his impending death. The time of departure will come for all of us.

“Just as man is destined to die…” (Hebrews 9:27a). We are all destined to die, whether it’s due to age, an accident or it may be hastened by a foolish act, ours or someone else’s. It may be violence or for many it’s a result of conflict in wars. It may be “natural causes”.  It may be what has been called an “act of God”. We’re not able to schedule the time or choose the type of way we will die. But the Scripture clearly states what we can all, regardless of where we live, acknowledge as truth, “man is destined to die…”

Are You ReadyThe real question is, are we ready to die? Yes “man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and He will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:27,28).

Is your heart right with God? Have you accepted His glorious provision for your sin problem? Are you waiting for His soon return?

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, though we’re uncertain of the date that we will leave this world, we can be certain of our readiness to meet You when we depart. Jesus sacrificed His life to take away our sins; to make provision for our forgiveness here and now and to provide for our eternal resting place in heaven. We leave an example for others to know the way to life eternal by the narrative of our life. We want to take as many as possible with us, so we must tell the story of Jesus and live in such a way that we show others the way to His love and forgiveness; and thereby make proper preparations for their day of departure. Our time of expiration may surprise others but You have our days numbered and welcome our arrival on the other side. We place our lives in Your hands and walk in the power of Your resurrected life. We thank You, Father, through Christ Jesus our Lord in whose name we pray. Amen.

Further musing: When we lived in New England we attended the funeral of a young man who died in an auto accident. He had received his license only a week earlier and had just registered his car the day before. He invited his schoolmate to join him as he drove his new car while "showing off" his overly confident driving skills. Following the fatality police indicated that speed was a factor, alcohol was not. The other young man was treated and released from a local hospital. What a sad time for this young man's family and his friends!

I recall another young man some 52 years ago speeding down a country road west of Belton Missouri at over 100 miles an hour in his dad’s Chrysler Newport within a short time after getting his license. This time it was me at a very fool-hardy stage in my young life. Nothing happened and I didn’t even consider how foolish it was till several years later.  Now I get goosebumps just to think about what could have happened!

Why did a foolish moment end the young man’s life? The young man who died was a very pleasant teen who attended our church for a season. Why is the foolish teenager of 52 years ago and countless others still going on as adults? (I imagine many of you can identify some pretty reckless moments in your own life!) Of course I don’t have the answer to any of the lingering questions that I write about. We just need to be ready!

* Another musing: At the time my brother shared this with me 72 was still seemingly far off for both of us. He was in his mid 60's and I was still in my 50's. Now he's in his mid 70's and still active in the Lord's work.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come To Jesus"  Click to listen on YouTube  Gaither Vocal Band

"Tell Me"   Click to listen on YouTube    Gaither Vocal Band featuring Janet Paschal

"I Wish We'd All Been Ready"  Click to listen on YouTube   Larry Norman

Lebanon Reservoir
Here's a view of the lake from the dam after reaching the top. It was worth the climb!
Click on photo to enlarge

Mountain lake on Stony Valley railroad trail
Here's the same lake in a photo we took three years ago along the Stony Valley rail trail off Goldmine Road. Due to the dam the two trails do not connect.
The lake is located here on a Google map.
Click on photo to enlarge

Swatara iron furnace
Just below the dam is this relic of industry, the Swatara Iron Furnace.

Old Forge Road houses
Old stone homes along Old Forge Road. Notice the deer deterrents around the trees.
Click on photo to enlarge

Mill Creek
A view down to Mill Creek which runs below the dam
Click on photo to enlarge

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Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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