Scientists have performed thousands of experiments in laboratories in an attempt to determine the origin of life. But over and over, they end up with the same conclusion: Life comes from life.
In nature, many lives are very brief. The beautiful moonflower blooms briefly at night and fades by sunrise. What is the purpose of beauty gone so soon, and rarely even seen?
The dazzling Cecropia moth never eats again after emerging from its cocoon. It lives in its adult form only a few days, just long enough to lay eggs and continue the life cycle.
We often look at brief lives with sadness. That something should be formed and die in such a short time can almost seem wasteful to those of us who live within the boundaries of time. Such a perfect life, such joy, such beauty, gone so quickly. We are at a loss, once again, because we cannot see the big picture. We don’t understand how life begets life, how sometimes the process happens very quickly, and is finished before we realize it. The grand purpose of life is to impart life.
A human life begins with one sperm cell and one egg. Those two things exist for one purpose and only one purpose: to give life. Once produced, they live for only a few days, and then die.
We think of people who have lived long and full lives and have passed on a rich heritage to many, and we are satisfied. What we struggle to comprehend is that a very brief lifespan can also be perfectly complete. And though the death of a young person is hard to comprehend and achingly difficult to accept, we know that God’s plan for each person is different. Just as each cell in the body has its own job to do and its own particular lifespan, so do people. Each of us, in our own way, imparts life to others. Whether we actually become parents or not, we all have the opportunity to pass along life by showing God’s truth. We receive that truth not only from the Holy Spirit, but also from each other and from nature. Even a perfectly helpless infant can teach the lessons of patience and gentleness and overflowing joy. We learn from animals, from plants, and from the stars. All of God’s creation reveals the wonder of His power and grace.
I have heard that in God’s economy, nothing is wasted. No faded petal that falls to the ground has failed to do its part. Perhaps its pollen was carried by bees to produce fruit. Perhaps it became part of a half-wilted bouquet, a gift from a little girl to her grandmother, or maybe it was simply plucked off by a careless hand and discarded in the dirt beneath the plant, where it decomposed and nourished the soil. I am sure that is true of His children as well. God never wastes a life. Some lives become well-known; some are barely known at all, yet each imparts somehow, to someone, new life.
On the cross, our Lord said, “It is finished.” I am sure that His disciples did not understand or believe that it was finished at all. They mourned His passing intensely. It seemed much too soon; there was so much to be done! We feel the same when we see life pass quickly…so much left unfinished, so many plans incomplete. And yet, the echo comes back: It is finished. His thirty-three years on this earth accomplished all that was ever needed in order to impart life to us.
And like the moonflower, a short earthly life seems even more precious and mysterious because of its brevity. We hug the memories to us and try to preserve them, thinking they are all we have left. But in truth, there is all of eternity. Though another has made that transition to infinity earlier than I, the time we are apart is nothing but a hiccup. Someday time will cease to exist, and then we will have perfect life.
With the One who imparted His life to us in the very beginning.