Over the holidays, aging grandparents and growing children reminded me that time never stands still.
As the New Year dawns, we stuff calendars with dates and times, trying to find room for every event and appointment. A valuable measuring tool becomes an enemy on a daily basis as we race against time, fight against time, and never have enough time.
Before Christmas, we delivered shoebox gifts to our neighborhood. At one home, we knocked but no one came to the door. As I contemplated leaving the boxes on a large item on the porch, I began to realize that it was a full-sized coffin left over from halloween decorations. The gift of time also leads right into the grave.
When Paul wrote to the Romans, “For the wages of sin is death,” he knew where time was heading for those who remain enslaved to their sin. Time always has its culmination. The buzzer always sounds. The sand inevitably runs out. The calendar page is ripped off and thrown away. Time is no good once it has passed, and for all of us, it has a definite end date.
However, Paul always follows the bad news with the good. He finished his statement by saying, “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Eternal life. It is life without time. Instead of time dwindling down to the end point, it is time shed as an uncomfortable shell bringing the liberty of life without the constraints of calendars, clocks, aging, and death.
If the hermit crab, who carries his house on his back, had no vulnerabilities to worry about, wouldn’t he move faster without the burdensome load? The turtle, if the world held no sharp-toothed dogs, wouldn’t need his shell to hide in. When eternal life makes us secure from death, we will no longer need the shell of time.
On Christmas Day at church, a young man raised his hand during prayer request time before the service. “I want to accept Jesus as my Savior,” he said. It was a bold request which led to time dropping away from him as he stepped into the abundant, eternal life that Jesus offers.
As soon as we accept Christ, we have the guarantee of eternal life. We begin to feel that the shell of time is uncomfortable. Even as I get out my calendar to plan for 2023, I know that my here and nows are nothing compared with the eternal weight of glory to be found in eternity.
Whether time is an enemy or a friend this year, it is temporary. The Apostle Paul also wrote, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time because the days are evil.” Use it knowing that one day, we will throw it by the wayside because we won’t need it where we are going.