It seems a little unreal that it’s already Easter time again. This last year has been a strange and trying one with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and all the restrictions and shutdowns. A year ago, I was crushed to realize that we wouldn’t be able to hold our usual Easter services. As the weeks rolled by, Sundays seemed strangely quiet. We continued to put on a service with music and a message for the radio broadcast and the podcast for our website. But it was with a “skeleton crew”, just a handful of people to help us continue our radio presence.
Now here we are at Easter time again, and we want people to come back and worship and celebrate the resurrection of Jesus in person at church again. But we also know that there are still many who have fears and concerns about the virus. So, like many churches, we are going ahead with Easter services, but it’s not “full steam ahead.” We’re forging ahead even as we acknowledge the lingering reluctance of some. Please join with us again when you feel that you can.
When I came down with the virus after Easter last year, time seemed to pause. I had a relatively mild case, for which I am very thankful. But every day was the same: I felt tired and achy, and I slept a lot, more than 20 hours out of 24 on some days. I woke up, ate breakfast; slept, ate lunch; slept, ate supper; then went to bed early. For days, the routine never varied. I told my wife I got sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Just about two weeks ago I got my first COVID shot. Then for the next two days I felt like I had gone back in time a year! For about 48 hours I felt exactly like I did a year ago when I came down with the virus. But thankfully by the third day I was back to normal. It was a strange reminder of last year’s experience.
My iPhone will routinely pull up a photograph from three or four years ago to display when I look at it in the morning. Often it will be a photo of one of my grandsons when they were younger, or of a family gathering that included loved ones who are no longer here. Those pictures can stop me in my tracks, and I think, “Where has the time gone?”
When I was about 33 years old, I thought to myself, “I guess there’s no denying it now: I’m an adult!” But I still felt like a kid in an adult’s body. Now at 65 years of age, I think, “I guess there’s no denying it now: I’m a senior citizen!” And I’ve got the Medicare card to prove it! But I still feel like a 30-year-old kid in a 65-year old body. It’s only when my body doesn’t quite move like it used to that I remember how much time has passed.
I love what former Beatles’ producer George Martin said: “If you’re lucky, you get to be old.” I think a Christian should have said that first. But he was right. For all the challenges, and the aches and pains, there are some wonderful things about getting older.For instance, I wouldn’t have missed my grandsons for the world!
But time passes so fast. I don’t remember who said this, but when asked what it was like to get old, one man responded, “You eat breakfast every half hour.” It sure seems like that sometimes.
There are different words used for time in the Bible. Whether in the Old Testament or the New Testament, it comes down to two basic ideas. The first is “a series of moments or events”. In the New Testament, the Greek word for this concept is chronos. It designates a period or a space of time, and it’s much the same way we view time in the modern world: linearly, scientifically, something we can measure and keep track of.
But the second New Testament Greek word has a different meaning. It is kairos, and it means “a special time” or “an appointed time”. Both of these ideas give us the Biblical concept of time.
Time is marked by cycle and repetition. We experience this in the round of seasons and holidays we look forward to every year. But the Bible tells us there is more to life and history than just “the wheel goes round and round.” Time had a beginning and is moving towards God’s appointed ends. The world had a beginning and is moving towards God’s appointed ends. And your life and mine had a beginning and is moving towards an appointment with God.
There was an appointed time in history that changed history for all time. The Bible says, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” (Romans 5:6) The Apostle Paul wrote again, “But when the fulness of time had come, God sent forth his Son…” (Galatians 4:4). All of history is divided into the time before Christ, and the time after Christ. And time is different since Jesus came: “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” (2 Corinthians 6:2) Now is the “favorable” (or acceptable) time. Now is a day of opportunity, a “day of salvation.” Now is a time when we can be saved: set apart as belonging to God, with our sins forgiven and a place in His household. Time is like this now because “Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Jesus changed time forever.
Jesus can change you forever. And that happens when you and I come to a time when we realize our need of forgiveness and our need of Him. At that appointed time we can either humble ourselves before the Lord Jesus and open our hearts to Him in faith, or we can exalt ourselves before Him and harden our hearts against Him in stubborn unbelief.
But whether we accept or reject Jesus, there is still an appointed time for all of us. “…it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) We all have an appointment with death, and after that we have an appointment with God. We all die because we all have sinned. But because of what Jesus did on our behalf, instead of condemnation we can have eternal life. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 3:23) The way to be ready to die and make sure we’re ready to meet God is to receive Jesus.
After we’re saved, there is still an appointed time for us. Paul wrote, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.” (2 Corinthians 5:10) This isn’t telling unbelievers how to be saved; it’s telling believers in Jesus why we should live for Jesus after we have been saved. And it’s telling us that we will be judged by how we live our lives for Him. Or not. Because of this, we are supposed to deal with time in a different way from unbelievers: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Galatians 5:15-16) The King James Version puts it this way: “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
Let me sum this all up: God intervened in time and sent His Son at the appointed time, so we could be saved out of this present evil time. After we’re saved, we are called to live for Him in this time by making the best use of our time for His sake. (Want me to go over that one more time?)
What this all means is this: Christian, your moments matter. Yes, they are going by at an alarming rate. As my youngest grandson would say: “That makes me sad!” But guess what? If you’re sad about it, it doesn’t slow them down any. And then you’ve wasted some more of those precious, dwindling moments being sad. Or angry. Or bitter. Or offended. Or whatever. Don’t we get it? LIFE IS TOO SHORT!
So live for Jesus. Give it your best shot, depending on Him. Run your race. Fall, get up, brush yourself off and go at it again. Pray. Trust. Work. Rest. Blow it. Confess it. Go at it again. Keep on. It doesn’t depend on you (or me) anyway. It all, always, depends on Him. And Jesus is enough.
So, redeem the time, while you have time. And one day, when all this is over, we get to celebrate with Jesus.
Then we’ll have a time!
Soli Deo Gloria! Pastor David