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"They said therefore, What is this that he saith, A little while? we cannot tell what he saith."
John 16:18

Life is time and time is life. The way you spend your hours and your days is the way you spend your life. Life is a gift from God and we should ever be thankful for it, even the little whiles. "For a little while" means for a short time. Jesus had finished His walk at Calvary's cross, rose from the dead, and was about to ascend to the Father and He knew His disciples would need some preparation as well as encouragement. Jesus' meaning of "a little while" in this passage was a period of sorrow that would be followed by a period of joy. It would be well taken for all of us to pay more attention to life's "little whiles" too, for those short spurts of grace are the spiritual energy drinks which carry us on the long haul. We would have a lot more peace in our hearts and lives if we could realize and live like we don't have to have it all or do it all. Our lives would be best lived in "little while" compartments. Really, a little while is all we have, so it makes sense to make the most of these precious moments. Life shouldn't be measured in years, months, or even days. Life should be measured in moments. It took many days, months, even years for the Israelites to get to the crossing of the Jordan River but all that travel time faded in the shadows of the little while taken to stack the stones as an Ebenezer to remind them of God's help.

I recently preached a meeting at the Sturgeon Creek Church near Fitzgerald. One morning, Brother Mike, Brother Ralph and I drove to the Ocmulgee River sight seeing. Brother Ralph, who is in his eighties, grew up in the area and was a real good tour guide for our morning excursion. We parked at the river landing and walked down a concrete boat ramp to the water's edge. There we stood, the three of us admiring the river's swift current and the willow and cypress trees clinging to the bank. For a little while we forgot about our problems, even the service that evening. God's amazing creation was drawing us closer to Himself and to each other and further away from the rat race in the world and religion.

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You know, a little while with God will bring the best out of any of us. Go out tonight if you can and find a place where you can look up at the stars in the sky. A little while looking up at God's glorious light show will humble us as we realize how small we are; and, at the same time, will strengthen our inner being as we get a glimpse of how great and wonderful and merciful our Creator Father really is. These sacred moments also have a way of attracting us to a past moment of grace which God gave us as a bend in the road benchmark where the fount of every blessing flows.

That was true for Brother Ralph because he broke our silent meditation by recalling a family reunion picnic and swim at the very spot we were standing. "We were all swimming over on that sandbar," as he pointed to the spot in the river. "Suddenly, I was in deep water and the current quickly carried me down stream. I was six or seven years old and could not swim! I was frantically trying to get to the surface so I could breathe. Then I was carried around that bend in the river and just when I had no strength or breath left, a hand reached in the water, pulled me up and carried me to the shore. To this day, I do not know who did that. All I remember seeing was a man with a straw hat in a small boat with a cane pole. He never said a word to me. My family never knew I was missing but was surprised to see me walking on the shore on the other side of the river." After hearing that, I told Brother Ralph, that the man was from God. He was sent there just to deliver him from death.

"The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them."
Psalm 34:7

What stands out to me is of all the years and events of Brother Ralph's life, that "little while" in the Ocmulgee River was fresh and tender in his heart and worth sharing with friends in a sacred setting.

Reflection can complement our direction. The rearview mirror in your car or truck greatly enhances your driving skills and provides security and peace of mind although you may only glance at it for a little while. Life's spiritual benchmarks are the "little whiles"; the short time periods, in which something profound happens which promote God and grace in our lives. Jesus Christ spent six hours on the cross so that all of our sins could be forgiven, thereby saving us from the wrath of a Holy God and keeping us out of an eternal damnation. A little is a lot when God is in it! Whether it was two fish and five loaves of bread, a mite in a widow's pocket, or a little cloud the size of a man's hand, what was done with and for a little while ended up making a big pile of blessings. It doesn't take God long to do anything, although He does seem to take His time when He is teaching us patience. A believer's life on earth can be wearisome and filled with pain, even bringing us to the point of crying out to God, "How long?" Then God sends a "little while" of grace and mercy and we receive a spurt of comfort or maybe even an eternal change of residence.

"In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
I Corinthians 15:52

As you take a "little while" to read this article, I hope it will prompt you to be more conscious and sensitive to the "little whiles" in your life. Time is surely one of Godís greatest gifts. We should learn to enjoy God and life while we are here on earth. Remember, we will only be here a little while. And, the management of time is the management of self. Therefore, if you manage and are aware of the little while with God, He will begin to manage you. Really, a little while is all we have to work with. Let's donít waste it with evil thoughts or stinking thinking. Probably our most common sin is empty minutes when we wander away from God in thought and sometimes deed. It doesn't take long to confess a sin; just a "little while." A little while on our knees will bring comfort like the breeze in the trees on a hot summer day. There is an old Chinese proverb that says, "A journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step." Let's take a walk down "Little While Lane!"

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Probably none of us like it when we have to do something we don't want to do or be somewhere we don't want to be. It is amazing though to see how much energy and enthusiasm we have when we're interested and excited about something compared to when we're forced to face what we dread or fear. Pursuing comfort and fun keeps us on the run. It cramps our style when we have to give up something, especially our time (though it's not ours anyway). Not only should we tithe our money, we should also tithe our time. Spending a little while with God will bring great blessings that will last a long while.

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."
Malachi 3:10

Are you frustrated and feel as though your life is meaningless? Do you feel lonely, useless, even lost? Maybe what you need is to spend a little while in church. Yes, worship is a short time compared to all the time we have. But when we're not where we want to be or thinking about something else, a little while can seem like forever. I remember when I was in elementary school, I thought recess would never come. Six hours in a classroom seemed like a waste to a boy who wanted to play ball or go hunting. Today, I realize that the classroom time was really only a little while and I wish I had taken greater advantage of the educational opportunities given me. If a person lives to be seventy years old they will have lived six hundred thirteen thousand and two hundred hours. And, if that person attends church one hour per week, he or she, would spend three thousand six hundred and forty hours in church during a lifetime. That is only 0.0059 percent of the total time alive on earth, just a little while! It is true that no one has ever heard a bad short sermon (I'm working on this). Yet, after all is said and sung, it's only a little while. One thing I have learned during the little while of my ministry is that when I'm doing what God wants me to do and I'm at the place God wants me to be, it ends up being the best for me. Even though a little while can be boring or make us squirm, we should strive to get the most out of it, after all, it's from God.

"And He cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?"
Matthew 26:40

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Have you not been told when going through trouble, "This too shall pass!"? Our trials and struggles don't last forever. We grow and mature spiritually through adversity, not when everything is going smoothly. In a time of adversity or trouble, the Christian has the opportunity to know God in a more intimate way. All of our trials have a divine purpose and they benefit us by causing self examination and faith exercises. Trials will also purify us and help us get our priorities in the right order. God is the potter and we are the clay and He shapes us and molds us into vessels of blessings for His glory. He knows just how long to keep us in the oven of obstacles and He also knows how high the temperature of temptation needs to be so He can say "Well done thou good and faithful servant!"

Really, when we think about it, we need trials. David said in the one hundredth nineteenth Psalm verse sixty-seven that without his trials, he went as astray. I know for sure I would not be a preacher if I hadn't had trials. Actually, none of us would be Christians except for our trials. The trial of convicting guilt over sin brought us to God's court of grace. We would never know how wonderful forgiveness is had we not felt the burden and weight of our sin. It's like we don't know how to appreciate health until we've experienced sickness. The cross itself testifies of the greatest trial. That's where our sin debt was paid in full and God's holy wrath was appeased because His only begotten Son took our place, suffered and died there for us, and rose again in a little while. If we are going to follow Jesus, we are going to have to take the trail of trials because He said to follow Him. We must deny ourselves and take up our crosses daily (for a little while). Life is a trail, not a super highway. Trials are just speed bumps to help us take time to be holy.

"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and external weight of glory."
II Corinthians 4:17.

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It's the little things we do that make the biggest difference in our lives. That moment of strain and pain, of waiting, wondering, and wanting can bring us great joy and happiness if we have the right attitude about it all. Going to Walmart is not my favorite thing to do, but sometimes I have to spend a little while there. The worst part of the Walmart experience for me though is the check out line. It's hard to smile in a Walmart check out line. (Notice how everyone looks so sad, even mad the next time you go there.) But you know if you really want to smile, you can do it, even in a Walmart checkout line. I remember standing in line one day aggravated because it was my second trip to Walmart in the same day because I forgot what I was supposed to get the first time. It had to be God's grace that changed my pouting into praying. As I stood in line, I noticed a young couple in front of me with three small children placing their items on the counter. I silently began praying for them, for their marriage, their lives, for their souls. Even though I did not know them nor have I seen them since, I left Walmart with a smile on my heart.

I probably spend two hours per year in a dental chair getting my teeth cleaned. But if it wasn't for that little while of hygiene, I might not have any teeth and I surely would not smile. A little while of spiritual hygiene can bring the light of the world to the darkest places and put a spot of yellow on the bleakest circumstances. It takes only a little while to send a card or make a phone call, or text someone who may be down and out. A few moments is all it takes to say, "I forgive you" or "I love you." It only took a minute for me to ask Penny for our first date (Although I was afraid she would say no). And, it took just a little while to ask her to be my wife, but our marriage has brought me bigger smiles. Actually, most of the things that make us smile only last a little while. A sunset, a baby's first steps, friends' visits, a flower bloom, a rainbow; all testify that God intended for us to learn to live and look for the little whiles.

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Now we would not get very far in our automobiles if we didn't spend a little while at the gas pump. For the child of God, a little while in the word of God will carry us a long way down the road of life. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is a proverb we should put into practice. A little while in prayer will take us farther down the road of obedience and service to God. It could be if we're discouraged and feel like quitting that we need to spend a little while with God. I think too that we must keep the end in view; the long distance, and final destination in our minds, else the little whiles of discomfort may cause us to complain. When our girls were small and we were traveling to Dog Island for a summer vacation (about a seven hour trip), they would sometimes complain, even fuss, and would often ask "how much longer?" But once we made it to the beach, all the travel pain was forgotten! Realizing that we are pilgrims and strangers on earth, and that Heaven is our eternal home should help us pack the "little whiles" in the right place because we're going to be gloriously happy in the long haul. Haven't you noticed how that when you go to visit someone in say, a nursing home or hospital and you want to be a blessing to them they end up being a blessing to you? That little while you spent in their presence ends up giving you more reason to live and love. The Lord Jesus Christ spent a little while with a Samaritan woman at a well but His time with her brought a change in her lifestyle, peace in her heart, and purpose in her life.

"Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?"
John 4:29.

These may be individuals we should take Jesus to! He lives in your heart you know. We don't have to lead anyone to Christ, all we have to do is take Jesus to them. He will do the rest. Miracles only take a little while! May God help us to live the biggest in the Little whiles. After all, Jesus Christ is coming again, and He is coming in a little while. The best pharmacy I know, run by the best people I know have a sign on the wall in their Brooklet store that says: "Time spent with our customers is time well spent." And that takes a little while, but that is a prescription we all need filled.

Brother Randy


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