Crossing the Years

By Not Known

For many of us this time of the year is significant in the overall rhythm of life. Some things do not change – the beating of our hearts, the breathing in and out, the rising and setting of the sun. Although our hearts may skip a beat or two at times leaving us thankful for life itself, some things do change for good – leaving home for a new country, new job, new relationship, new concern, new challenges, new hopes etc. All these can generate a mix of enormous joy, sadness, and anxiety. These feelings are especially heightened as the clock needle approaches the last seconds of 31st December, translating the cyclical rhythm of time into a linear dash across the years. What are feeling tonight as 2007 passes into history and as 2008 presses in view? How can we cope with our past to the advantage of our future?

The Preacher-Teacher spoke of a similar rhythm of life in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8. In his search of meaning and significance in that rhythm, his experiences drew blank… Meaningless! Meaningless! …Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless. (Eccl 1:2) This is at best his conclusion about earthly existence and endeavour. But this does not mean that history once gone is forgotten. For he later wrote – Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account. (Eccl 3:15) What does this imply?

It implies that the meaning and significance of our earthly lives yesterday, today and tomorrow do not rest in our achievements, experiences, possessions, or even failures and losses according to human measures. Rather, his grand conclusion calls us to Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil. (Eccl 12:13-14) God did not expect us to make sense of every frustration and futility of life. Instead, he has given us life as a gift to enjoy (Eccl 2:24), to make the most of every opportunity (Eccl 9:10), and ultimately to live in reverence of his righteousness. This is the attitude we are encouraged to cultivate toward life and God. This is the measure of a life well lived whether or not your sales target was met; whether or not your friendships were at their best.

So then, how can we cope with our past to the advantage of our future? The first question and answer in Westminster shorter catechism summaries: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. Some things do not change for now while some things do. But God never changes and that includes his righteousness. So then, live to what is of eternal value to God and let all of life be measured by it.