December 31, 2008

No more thresholds

For fun, I might count in the next few days the number of times I hear, “Where did 2008 go?” Time flies, and as we step from one year into the beginning of another, people seem to notice it more.

Life seems to fly swiftly also. Scripture is realistic as it describes how “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, And its flower falls away. . . .” Like the tiny parts of a plant blown by the wind, our lives are short blips on the time line of history. As my husband says, we are all terminal. Everyone zooms toward death the moment they are born. Death is humanity’s greatest enemy, and for many, the greatest fear.

Yet there is more to these verses from 1 Peter. The next line says, “But the word of the Lord endures forever. Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you” (1 Peter 1:24-25). The gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with hope. It offers us the eternal in the gospel, a life that goes on forever. Yet this life is not merely about the future; eternal life is for right now. 1 John 5:9-13 says:
If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.
I’ve loved this passage for a long time because of the middle words: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life!

Eternal life is not about length or duration, but quality. After all, in eternity, time no long exists because past, present and future are rolled together in one bundle. This is hard to understand because I am so fixed in time, yet I do understand that Jesus has a never-ending life and because I have Jesus, I also have this same never-ending life, a type of life that is different from temporary human life, a life that cannot die.

This is a wonder, and even with aches from a body that is aging, as I think about this gift from God, I can ‘feel’ this life surging through me.

Tonight I step from 2008 to 2009. I will take part of the old year with me, memories, unfinished projects, etc. along with great eagerness for the new year, a fresh beginning. I’m excited about what lies ahead and looking forward to all that God has in store for me, even at my age.

However, I’m more and more aware that someday I will step from this life into eternity. At that transition, I will take almost nothing from my old life. God promises me that all trials, sorrow, struggles with sin and temptation will stay behind. The only thing that will go with me is that gift He gave, the amazing life of Jesus Christ, a life that is eternal and is already at work making me ready for the delights of the next life on the other side of the threshold.

My anticipation is secure because of the enduring substance of the Gospel that I’ve received by grace. It is the power of God unto salvation, and because of it, when my “earthly house of this tabernacle” is dissolved, I have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, a house with no more thresholds.

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