Pastor viewpoint: Starting anew together
There is something unique about living on planet Earth. We live with the ability to measure time in several different ways. Since we have begun a new year, let's take a look at what is a year? When it is time for your birthday, you can measure the year by how old you are. Your life began on that day and each year that same day comes around. So you can say that you are one year older. For the people who are married, you can measure a year by the anniversary. When we were young we could measure each year by passing from one grade to another. We would say, "The school year is over, onto the next grade!" People in the business world can measure the year by budget cycles. It seems odd to start a new year on July 1, but if that's your fiscal year, then you can start a new year. But when Jan. 1 comes around, we can all celebrate a new year together. All across the world the calendar turns from 2018 to 2019.
There is a certain uniqueness about New Year's Day. No matter how anyone celebrates, it is one of the days on the calendar that the whole world has in common. One of my favorite old Bob Seger songs says, "There I go, turn the page." A new year, a new calendar. Several years ago I was sitting in the chapel talking to a truck driver whom I had never met. Our discussion turned to the subject of eternity. We were reading from Thessalonians I, Chapter 4. Paul was writing a letter of encouragement. The subject in verse 16 is the Lord's return. It will come unexpectedly; with a loud command; with the voice of the archangel; with a loud blast of the trumpet call from God.
How loud do you suppose God can be on a trumpet?! At this time, there will be a resurrection from the dead; AND then there will be a "catching" up and away into heaven for all believers. What occurred to me as we were encouraging one another was this: no one except Jesus has known what it's like to live in eternity. At the very instant when we leave this earthly body there is no more time. That freedom has no comparison on earth. We will no longer know the difference between a minute and a year; a decade or a century. Time will disappear. Verse 17 confirms that "we will be with the Lord forever." And back to Paul for one more thought. He starts Chapter 5 saying this," ... about times and dates we do not need to write to you..." No one can know exactly the time or date when he will return, so don't bother. When we sit in line at the drive-thru, or a stop light, four minutes seems like eternity. At least, that is how we complain. In eternity we will never again say, "This is taking too long." It won't matter how long the line is to get into heaven. There won't be any "hardship or suffering" standing in line!
Make sure that your entrance into eternity with God is paid for by Jesus Christ. There is no other way to enter. Jesus made that statement in John 14:6. Jesus also spoke of living forever through him in John 6. He said in vs. 35, "I am the bread of life" followed up with vs. 58, "... he who feeds on this bread will live forever." I hope you had a good New Year's celebration. I hope this year will be filled with blessings from the Lord who loves you. I hope your plans will be committed to the Lord so that he can direct your steps. Keep this in mind: "Could this be the last calendar I will ever flip?" Paul encourages us to be alert, sober, self-controlled, and ready at all times.