Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Beginnings, Endings and the New Year

The end of one year and the beginning of another is emblematic of life itself. Life is a series of beginnings and endings, of starting and finishing. But the Christian hope is linked to the great ending of all. And for the Christian this ending is the true beginning of something that will never end. In Revelation 21:1-4 states, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, make ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.' "

Every completion of something in the time-space dimension is a reflection of the fleetingness of life. Life is transient at best. James said it was like a vapor that soon passes away (James 4:14). Ultimately no man (except Jesus) leaves a footprint, carbon or otherwise, on the face of history. We live, love, work, plan, grow, fail, and struggle until the end. Paul said that if only in this life the Christian had hope, then Christians are an extraordinarily pathetic people, and they should be pitied by all (1 Corinthians 15:19). The Christian's life is beyond the ravages of time and the vicissitudes of life. Our joy is beyond the grave, and the reflections of joy we share here pale in comparison to what is coming. It is the Father's good pleasure to share His kingdom with His children, and the children will giggle in divine glory beyond the distant ethereal sunset.

In the Book of Revelation the old apostle John, who had seen so much in his life (good and bad), was now waiting for the upward call to go home. Exiled on the penal island of Patmos he had a remarkable vision of Jesus. Jesus came to the sweet John and reminded the elderly, weakening apostle that Jesus was the alpha, the omega, the almighty God. Jesus was once dead, but now He is alive forevermore. He is the King of Life, and in His sovereign hands are the keys of the greatest enemies of all: death and Hades. For John that was the greatest news of all. John's aging eyes saw the end of that which will pass, and he saw the beginning of that which is to come. All of God's people, joyfully adorned as a bride for her husband, described also as a new city, will rejoice in the new heavens and new earth. And God, with tender mercy and intimacy, will touch their cheeks to wipe away every tear with His merciful finger. Those tears, salty with pain, sorrow, and agony of heart and body, are precious to our God. And He loves us enough to wipe these tears away Himself.

At the end of things there are often tears, but sometimes there are tears at the beginning of things. But the end of mortality and the beginning of immortality will be cause for the greatest wiping away of tears of all time. This awesome promise, this dynamic anticipation will make all worth while. So, finish your year, Christian friend, and begin with the joyful knowledge that you are in God's sovereign and good hands. And remember, "Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, or entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9)."

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