Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Moment in Time

It’s a New Year, so to speak.  I’m aware that as I write this, on January 4th, that most of us have seen many of our regular friends and acquaintances and have wished them the best for 2012.  So now it seems past time to say “Happy New Year” and time to get in the habit of writing, or typing, “2012” without occasional lapses back into “2011.”  Some people have made New Year’s resolutions, resolutions that have already been forsaken less than 96 full hours into the year, despite the best of intentions when they were made.  Others may be using the New Year to mark the start of an intention to change one or more things in their life, shying away from the firmness of the word “resolution,” so that there is a little room for flexibility as change takes place.  Life change, be it for better or worse, occurs much more often as a process than in one fell swoop.  

As we think about time it is true that when we track it with a calendar we are now into something different than we were a few days ago.  2011 ended on December 31st and it is now most certainly 2012.  Calendars give us a reference point, both forwards and backwards.  I’m looking forward to seeing my father soon, for his 80th birthday.  And as a country we’ve recently noted the 10th anniversary of the events that took place on a particular September 11th, a date so well known that we often refer to it simply as 9/11.  Nearly everyone knows the year of 9/11, without it ever being stated. 
And while today is Wednesday, January 4th, 2012, it is a particular date that is also somewhat arbitrary.  It is a reference point, but the developers of the calendar could have placed the month, or the day, or even the year, nearly anywhere.  As a matter of fact, when the calendar we currently use, the Gregorian Calendar, was implemented, there was a loss of 11 days in the shift from the Julian Calendar.  In the first places it was used people went to bed on October 4, 1582 and the next morning it was October 15th!  There are numerous calendar systems in the world and our 2012 is someone else’s 1374, 6762 or what have you.

Regarding the arbitrary aspect of calendars, I read a thought on New Year’s Eve that said that “every moment of existence is just a random point in the time-space continuum.”  I think that the writer was expressing the thought that each day is just a particular point-in-time in the entire span of history, perhaps a point with significance to some particular people, but without real significance or meaning that could transcend great periods of time, such as centuries or the markers of geologic time.  The meaning of 9/11 may tug deeply at our emotions but when placed against a geologic scale that is relatively short, such as the Jurassic Period, a “mere” 50+ million years, then 9/11 doesn’t look very important at all.   

All of the above is to set the stage for my belief that in all that seems to be random and arbitrary about time, there are three, or perhaps four, specific days in time which have significance to the life of each person.  

The first is time’s beginning.  Much has been written by scientists and theologians about time and when it began.  Frankly, I don’t have enough understanding of either side of the argument to address it here, let alone to argue for or against a particular theory of the age of the universe and our planet Earth.  As a Christian I do believe that all that exists has been created by God, and Genesis 1 begins with the phrase “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and verse 5 closes “And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.”  All creation, time included, has as its beginning the moment when God spoke creation into existence.  None of us would exist but for God’s act of creation.

The second essential day is that certain one to come, when the world as we know it will come to an end.  Both scientists and theologians agree, I think, that our world will one day be no more.  I think that they may also agree that there is no way of predicting when that will be.  For the non-Christian the world’s end may be a moot point, something that will likely occur very long after they themselves have died.  

For the Christian this coming day, the “Day of the Lord,” has an entirely different significance, for is it the time when God will definitively set all things right in all of creation.  The Bible provides us with a glimpse of this in Revelation 21 and 22.  In Revelation 21:5 Jesus says “Behold, I am making all things new” and that is one promise among many that I am eager to see fulfilled.    

The third “day” that I believe has significance for all people is that one which Christians believed happened about 1980 years ago, in the movement from Good Friday to Easter.  The exact days when this happened are not of great importance, however the fact this did happen is the hinge point of all history.  Everything in history revolves around what God did in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We have heard the words of John 3:16-17 so often that we may often lose track of the depth of their meaning.  

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Jesus lived a sinless life, one that he willingly sacrificed to atone for the sins of all who would believe in him.  God accepted this atoning sacrifice, this payment for the sins of others, so that all who believed in Jesus could be made right before God, and could live with God eternally, in the beauty and glory portrayed in Revelation.

Which brings me to the fourth day, the day a person grasps onto Jesus in faith, saying, “I believe.”  Some of us who have done that may have a specific memory of its happening.  We may recall the date, or the place, or an activity, or an emotion.  In my case, when I looked back several years later, I realized it wasn’t specifically saying “I believe” but in the saying of a prayer that I could not have said without having belief.

If you have read this far and have faith in Jesus this may be the time to offer a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, as you remember what God has done in your life and what he promises to do in your future.  Both your present and eternal future.  And then maybe ask God to show you a person in your circle of acquaintances that you might share your faith with, so that they could know those promises too.

If you have read this far and are unsure of where you are with God, then take a moment and consider how God may be reaching to you at this moment.  Revelation 22:17 says,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

The Spirit is God and the Bride is his church, made up of all who have believed in God throughout history, and all are joined together to invite you to take by faith the only thing that can satisfy spiritual thirst.  It is the invitation of a lifetime, an eternal lifetime.  I invite you to consider it.

We have passed into a new year, a very small point on God’s time-space continuum, and I thank and praise God that he is the creator of time.  And I thank God that he has promised to hold, eternally, myself and all who experience that moment in time of coming to him in faith. 

To God be all glory, now and forever. Amen.

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