Time Flies…Like a Fleeting Shadow – Barbara Parker


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

“Oh, so that’s how you do it!” exclaimed my young son with a surprised look on his face as he dialed the old rotary-style phone; “I always wondered how those things worked.” We were on vacation, browsing through an antique store, and his boredom was momentarily alleviated by this new discovery. I was surprised too—but not about how to use the phone. It was a shock to realize that something so ordinary and commonplace to me was truly an antique to him.

I think back to my own elementary-school years and recall the Weekly Reader. Living in an area that was not densely populated and never having been in a big city, I was amazed by stories of multi-level freeway overpasses, or of huge shopping malls that would house a multitude of stores under one roof. Yet today I drive confidently around the Los Angeles freeways or stroll through the enormous King of Prussia Mall in Pennsylvania without a second thought. I also recall the “how-could-that-be-possible?” skepticism when we were told that man would soon be going into space; but that memory is quickly followed by one of a warm summer evening in 1969 when, from Apollo 11, Neil Armstrong announced, “Houston…the Eagle has landed,” and man proceeded to take a walk on the moon. Why, only about sixty years before, my grandmother had traveled across Nebraska with her parents in a covered wagon!

As I write this, I am fifty-eight years old—a baby boomer. When I was just eight I overheard my Mother’s friend ask about her age and she replied that she was twenty-eight. I was mortified—my mother was soooo old! How time has flown—before I knew it I was twenty-eight and it no longer seemed quite so ancient—and now my son is twenty-eight and my perspective has changed once again. Yet thousands of years ago King Solomon wrote that there is “nothing new under the sun,” and his words are as true now as they were then. While technology has advanced in dramatic ways, all the same “stuff’ affects us—the same evils—the same aging process. We still get old and we still die.

Facing the prospect of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation; with the certain knowledge that my body was about to undergo a tremendous strain, I contemplated Romans 8:38-39, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” and I wrote…

…My body is the temple of God—and the enemy seeks to destroy it; whether through age, disease, or just my own poor habits in caring for it—yes, the curse of death will eventually destroy this physical shell, but the deterioration and eventual destruction of my body doesn’t destroy my life. It cannot destroy my relationship with my Lord—in fact, my physical death will be an entrance into life as I’ve never known it. Perhaps the aging process and the illness I’m facing can be a “catch 22” in reverse if I let it, for the older and weaker and sicker I get, the more I must trust God; and the more dependent I am on God, the stronger, happier, the more peaceful I become. Indeed, nothing can separate me from His love!

Shortly before my treatment began, another truth was prominent in my mind, “As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16)…

…We’ve been working hard to put our house in order—additionally it’s just been painted and is being re-landscaped by our homeowners association. We’ve rearranged furniture, cleaned out and reorganized the kitchen, and still need to get more stuff cleaned out of our closets. Yet when everything is done—when everything is perfectly in place, vacuumed, mopped and dusted—in just a day or two it will be cluttered if we don’t maintain it. And the exterior which looks so nice now will become dirty and fade over time. The new landscaping will require water and maintenance, and as the new plants flourish so will the weeds…

…If a building can so quickly deteriorate, why would anyone think our bodies would forever be perfect—our exteriors fade too, even with great maintenance—gray hair, wrinkles, age spots, and scars seem to appear so suddenly and unexpectedly that we’re surprised to catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror and may wonder how we could possibly look so much like our parents? Our interiors break down too—asthma, cancer, hernias, heart disease, diabetes, and on and on…
…Yes, my body will continue to fade—but I will maintain it—care for it—have a cancer removed from it one week from today. I will feed it, dress it, wash it, comb it, paint it and trim it. No matter—it will still fade. But my body is not who I am—it’s my house, a temporary shell—marvelous and alive and a creative miracle of God with a brain that’s more efficient than a computer—but it’s not permanent, and it’s not who I am.

About half-way through my treatment, the brevity of life was once again made clear when my mother suffered several strokes. Additionally, my dad’s vision and hearing had deteriorated to the point that he could not be left alone. Fortunately, my siblings came to the rescue because I was so weak I couldn’t help out at all. I mused…

…It’s hard to look at my parents and view them as old people who must be cared for—the natural cycle of life but still hard. We want them to be young and strong like they used to be, but it’s as if they’re gradually shrinking…

…I think of my mom in her present state of disability and realize that she’s only 20 years older than me—and 20 years flies by in a flash. I don’t know if I’ll be here in 20 years—or 30 or 40, but God does. God knows when my body will wear out and cease to function—he was with me when I was conceived and he will be with me when I die. And there is still a destiny yet to be fulfilled in my life—still a purpose that has not been accomplished. So Lord, I submit to your plan and purpose—however short or long—it’s all up to you. At the moment I’m confined—at the moment I’m in a season of enforced rest—please don’t let me waste it—let me learn the lessons you have for me. Let me learn how to soak in your presence—to be still—to rest. Hold me Lord—let me experience you more each day that I continue to breathe.

And then one morning I awoke with two very clear questions resounding in my mind, “Who do people see?” and “What makes me, me?”

…The thoughts I recall from the night are that people see the physical entity of my body—they see my actions and hear my words—and “Me” on my own is an image of sinful man. But there’s good news—conformed to the image of Christ I am a new creation…

…I am the person on the inside—the soul that has been redeemed and the spirit that has been born of God. And it’s that hidden part of me that will not perish—the part that communicates with God, searches after him, hears him, seeks him—the part He can see even though others cannot. It’s the part that will never be fully satisfied as long as I am physically alive—I will always be hungry for more of Him. In my limited state, confined by the dimensions of time and space, I can comprehend only so much—and yet there is so much more to be discovered…

…Many people are identified by their power, position, job, role, etc. What about me? As Rick Warren wrote in the first sentence of “The Purpose Driven Life,” “It’s not about me.” It’s about God and His faithfulness, and my ongoing prayer is that I will be identified by my relationship to Him—that even my physical appearance will reflect Him—that others will see Jesus in me…

Surely, as is written in Job 14:1-2 &10, “Man born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. He springs up like a flower and withers away; like a fleeting shadow, he does not endure…But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.” So I take much comfort from, and identify with, the psalmist who wrote, “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” (Psalm 71:17-18)


About Barbara Parker

Barbara Parker, the founder of Standing in Faith Ministries, endeavors to serve others by sharing the faith lessons God has taught her through the everyday trials of life. She is a wife, a mother, and a grandmother; and she worked for many years as a registered nurse and as a real estate broker. A survivor of breast cancer and several other major illnesses, Barbara holds the unshakable belief that God is big enough for any problem that life throws at you. It is this faith that enabled her when she worked as a hospice nurse, providing comfort to the dying and their loved ones. It is this faith that she writes and speaks about. Barbara graduated from the Los Angeles County Hospital School of Nursing and holds a BS in Health Science (Summa Cum Laude) from Chapman University, a Certificate in Fundraising from Loyola Marymount University, and a Certificate in Grant Writing from the Grantsmanship Center of Los Angeles. A Christian since childhood, she pretty-much grew up in church and has served in a variety of ministry roles including music, teaching, administration and counseling. She completed several post-graduate-level courses in Theology, trained as a church counselor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA, and completed a variety of schools and workshops with Aslan’s Place and other ministries. Barbara is a prayer minister endorsed by Aslan’s Place, where she often participates as a team member in ministry across the USA and abroad. She participates in a network of home churches, worshiping and developing relationships in a small group setting. Barbara is the author/editor/publisher of Pug Parables, I’m Still Standing and Richard’s Story which are available at Barbara's Store. She also has a DVD series, Unraveling the Mystery of Dream Interpretation, available at Aslan's Place. Barbara speaks to groups of any size, sharing her testimony and teaching others how to stand in faith. She is passionate about the fact that Christians can overcome every difficult circumstance through an intimate relationship with God in all three of his persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Barbara can be reached through her website www.standinginfaith.org