Monday, November 21, 2016

Is, Was, And Is To Come

“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is and which was, and which is to come.” (Revelation 1:8)

       Would it not seem more sequential to you if it read, “… which was, and which is, and which is to come”? Evidently not…at least, not to God. In fact, you will see the same order in verse four. You see, with God, everything starts with an “is.” When Moses recorded, “In the beginning God,” he was not talking about God’s beginning, but ours. Jehovah God exists in the eternal Present, the perpetual “Now.” It is such an innate part of Him, that He refers to Himself as the “I AM” (Ex. 3:14).

       God only speaks in terms of time for our benefit. Our lives are divided into minutes—the sixtieth part of an hour; but God sees these as moments—what we would think of as a brief coming together of circumstances that usually provide some kind of opportunity.

       Reason would tell us, therefore, that we should reflect this same order (“is, was, is to come”) in our own lives. Our primary concern should be the “is,” with proper respect for the “was,” and recognition of the “is to come.” I read once that the past is a clock that can only tell us what time it was, and the future is a calendar that only God can fill in with a permanent marker. Ah, but the present, on the other hand, has the power to refocus the past and re-establish the future, humanly speaking. It’s the only tool we have; but it’s all we need.

       We may not be the Great “I Am,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t follow His example, as well as that of the great Apostle; who did not say, “I am what I was,” or even, “I am what I will be”; but rather, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”

“Where, except in the present, can the Eternal be met?” — C.S. Lewis

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Now and Then

"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." Romans 8:18

         This verse takes it for granted we will all endure some suffering in this life, and I don’t think any of us would disagree. There is nothing meritorious per se about suffering; but according to Philippians 3:10, it does qualify one for admission into a special club: “the fellowship of his [Jesus Christ’s] sufferings.” Not only that, Peter tells us it serves to “stablish, strengthen, and settle [us] (1Pet. 5:10). That couldn’t be too bad, could it?

         Still, these and other benefits do not readily come to mind while one is in the throes of an especially long and/or hard trial. In Paul’s case, his means of perspective was the little word “reckon.” He uses the same word in chapter six to give us a handle on achieving victory in our lives by reckoning ourselves to be dead to sin and alive to God (6:11).

         One of the meanings for the word “reckon,” as found in the Oxford English Dictionary, is “to calculate, or keep count of, in relation to some starting point or base.” In other words, suffering must be judged against, or in relation to, something else. And Paul lets us know just what that something else is: “the glory that shall be revealed in us.” I’m not sure all that this entails, but I do know from the previous verse that it has to do with our being “joint-heirs with Christ,” and assumes we will share and share-alike with Him. If so, then in this case, the end truly does justify the means.

         I share these observations with you not to minimize any suffering you may be experiencing now, or will experience in the future, but simply to sharpen your “reckoner.” If anything, we women should understand this concept even better than men, since the prospect of finally seeing and holding in our hands the life that grew under our hearts is the overriding thought that gets us through the pain of childbirth. That’s exactly the principle Paul is trying to teach us.

          It’s not about the suffering now; it’s all about the glory then.