Times Eternity

I attended my 40th high school reunion. I have a confession about that. We were a class of only 46 souls, but I could not shake this fear that I would not recognize someone or remember a name. It wasn’t that I wanted to impress anyone with a nimble mind to which I lay no claim, but because I wanted us to be as familiar as when we wished each other farewell 40 years ago.

Reunions like that are curious, given the memories and the more experienced vantage point. In my chats with classmates, we generally avoided discussing our metamorphosis from children to adults. In the beautiful home warmed by evening lights and old friends, we shared our stories of careers and families, success and failure. I suspect many wondered how different choices might have led to other outcomes. A review of history invites that. Forty years later we’ve learned some things, including the realization that we cannot change the past even though its lessons remain.

We humans struggle with the bounds of time. We look back with regret and satisfaction, considering the troughs and crests. We look forward with fear, anxiety, and hope, straining to see the weather ahead and accept its inevitabilities. Emily Dickenson penned the verse, “On the wondrous sea, sailing silently, knowest thou the shore Ho! Pilot, ho! Where no breakers roar, where the storm is o’er? In the silent west many sails at rest, their anchors fast; Thither I pilot thee – Land, ho! Eternity! Ashore at last.”

The Bible reveals a God who pre-exists time. He intends His creation to be immune to the ravages of time. But we rejected Him and demanded autonomy, so He subjected us to the limitations and effects of time, our curse (Gen. 3). But He had a plan of redemption in the waiting. For sure, what Jesus did on the cross addresses our need to be saved from the penalty of sin. But it also offers to save us from the bounds of time. The Bible calls it eternal life because God invites us to join Him beyond time in holy fellowship. We receive that privilege by faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. In Him, we will be finally removed from the presence of sin, and the anachronisms of fear and anxiety. He will replace our hopes with a new and wondrous reality.

So here’s a thought. When life brings to mind the trappings and limitations of time, when you pine for the days of yore, regret the paths of yesterday, or imagine the scenes of tomorrow, remember that time may expire but you don’t. If you can say, “My times are in Your hand” (Psa. 31:15), then you can trust God to work for your good now, and you can live confidently while awaiting eternity’s grand reunion.

Do You Pray?

In 1936 a sixth grade girl, Phyllis, wrote to Albert Einstein asking, “Do scientists pray?” He expressed his doubts about prayer influencing the course of events but admitted, “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that some spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe, one that is vastly superior to that of man.” Another time he said, “The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible.” Einstein was referring to the basis of science, that the universe is predictable and discoverable. His admission was that the universe could not have made itself so.

Science keeps offering new and convincing evidence that God exists. Einstein’s “comprehensible universe” and “manifest spirit” hint at the inevitable reason why. “Ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature, namely, His eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). Creation points to its Creator, which inspires you to pray to Him who made you. Jesus said we can address Him this way: “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Of all the ways to think of God, Jesus wants you to relate to Him as a holy, yet approachable Father.

Do you pray even when you feel less than holy? Must you become a little more saintly before praying? The startling truth is that we can “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). By faith you can receive the forgiveness that makes you worthy of approaching a holy God. Jesus said to pray, “Forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Be a forgiver even as you pray to the Forgiver.

Do you pray about the messed up world we live in? Dishonest politicians, gun violence, and terrorism are the drumbeat of bad news. Health, finances, and relationships are the stressors in your personal life. Jesus had something for these, too. When you pray, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” you invite God’s rule in the world and trust His plans for your life.

Do you pray when you realize you are not in control? To pray “give us this day our daily bread” and “deliver us from evil” is to acknowledge that God provides and protects in ways you cannot.

Jesus’ model prayer (Matt. 6) is an invitation. Meditate on it and let it animate your prayer life. My prayer for you is that “the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thes. 1:12).

Faithful Living

The politicians and pundits wait breathlessly for a document from the White House. It finally drops. Opposing camps see what they expected and implement their messaging strategy (Impeach! Witch hunt!). If you live by politics, news cycles, and social media, you swing from outrage to incredulity, from vindication to condescension. It is exhausting and frustrating.

How do we live in these times? The answer has always been the same. By faith. Os Guinness offers a sweeping view of living by faith. “Seizing the day, making the most of life, and understanding the meaning of life are inseparable. All three require that we come to know the Author of time and the meaning of time and come to know the part He calls us to play in his grand story, which makes the deepest overall sense of time and history. We are then invited to live lives that align our individual hopes and destinies with the very purpose and destiny of the universe itself.”

A Hebrew prophet wrote simply, “The righteous will live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). His point was, just because the nation has turned from God and will suffer for it, you can still live by faith. Early Christian writers quoted Habakkuk’s words in making various related points. In Rom. 1:17, any person can become righteous by faith in Christ, regardless of race or religious background. In Gal. 3:11, neither religious community nor rule-keeping make you righteous. Instead, faith makes you yearn to live rightly, and participate in community. In Heb. 10:38, faith is how the soul endures the distractions and disruptions of life.

God’s faithfulness to you inspires yours to Him. In 1923, Thomas Chisolm set this idea in verse. “Great is Thy faithfulness! Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed Thy hand hath provided. Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me! Summer and winter and springtime and harvest; sun, moon, and stars in the courses above join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.”

Living by faith means you are faithful to God and trust what He has revealed about you. He created the world and placed you in it. He has given you value and a purpose for existing. By grace through faith he has given you a righteous identity in Christ. Jesus went to prepare a place for you in eternity and will come again when the time is right. He demonstrated that suffering and strife do not have the last word.

Politicians and nations may come and go, but God’s truth withstands the tests of time. Whatever would distract and disrupt your life, faith clarifies your reality and summons your strength to endure. Politics, current events, or social media could never offer the abiding peace and hope that accompany living by faith.