Looking back, moving forward
I've never been the type of person who made a big deal about the end of a year. To me, it's just another day in the constant passage of time. I, like many others, will likely fail at getting in the gym more, eating less fast food, traveling across the country and many other well-intentioned resolutions.
This year, however, time has meant just a little bit more. I think as Christians we have a unique perspective of time. We appreciate its temporal nature, and respect it as something not to be wasted as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission. In terms of 2016, there are now 365 days behind us. Days we will never see again, except in our memory. Time on earth that we will never have back.
Today I lament on how I wish I could grab the time, put it in a safe, and throw away the key. If not to change it, merely to look at it for another second longer, then edit out the sadness and sorrow. That way, when I sleep—I dream of vacations and laughter and friends and family. Yet, time cannot be contained like that. It moves like the wind: sweeping around obstructions, fleeing into the wilderness.
I weep for many things that happened in 2016. The year changed me, as it brought about every emotion ever named. I used to think getting a shot was painful. Now I understand true pain – and it goes much further than a needle will ever go. Of course, it wasn't just me, we all watched as our fallen world continued to stumble down a seemingly never-ending staircase.
Indeed, the waves battered relentlessly; taking me further from friendly shores, and there's nothing I or anyone could do. Of course, I know that's just not true. The truth is this: If my God is for me, who could be against me? Surely not time nor death nor pain nor people can separate me from the love of Christ. Christ is higher than all of these things. As we can appreciate at the end of the year, time is but temporary. In the unkindness of time, I sometimes feel lost, battered, helpless. But, that's not the end of the story.
The waves are unkind, sure, but the shore is never too far. Standing on the rocks where the waves deposit their spoils, stands Christ; eternal, breaking through the fog with a comforting light. He says come to me, lay your burdens on me. And oh how many do we have to lay! Surely we could count them all day!
This is the hope of yesterday – that looking back, we know with each day gone, Christ's return nears. With each passing day, we get to experience Christ's blessings even in the middle of pain. With each passing day, as hope fades into the night, we get to discover it again, like an old friend who has never left our side. But better than that: our hope and our salvation for eternity is dependent on nothing in this world. It was already finished on a cross thousands of years ago. A new light dawned when the stone was rolled away and the empty tomb was revealed. When the sun set that day there was no more night.
This is the hope of tomorrow — that we know that no matter what, our place in heaven is reserved. Our numbered days will prove at times difficult, but there will still be much joy and rejoicing. Yes, on earth, but even more so in eternity. The story has already been written, gloriously spoiled for all the nations to know.
So here, looking back on a year that I hoped would have been different— I'm thankful for so much. I praise the Lord for my friends, family, church and all of His blessings. Tomorrow may hold sorrow, but it still holds this fact: Jesus is alive. So with that truth, our hope is not weakened; we keep our heads above the violent waters, and swim on to a shore that's not so distant at all.
Written by: Tyler Wells
Edited by: Matthew Lutey