In the typical vernacular of American hyperbole, the recent solar eclipse was promoted as the “Event of the Century”, and met with the greatest fanfare and attention one might expect on the occasion of meticulously aligned celestial bodies. It was spectacular.
While everybody was looking, God did it again: His miraculous nature on display. Some expressed awe over an easily explained scientific phenomenon, however no one would ever deny that NASA scientists neither put the sun and moon up there, nor did they orchestrate such an astounding event. No, like the rest of us, they could only watch in amazement as yet another, every day miracle testified to the unfathomably precise mind of our Creator, God.
There, plain as day, the Sun and Moon effortlessly glided past one another, exchanged pleasantries (I’m sure), waved to the watching crowd and continued on their way.
Back to work people. Just like that it was over.
That same Sun and Moon are still right where we left them, more or less, dancing their rhythmic do-si-do and declaring the glory of our Creator- right now – with scarcely anyone in attendance. Pulling tides, fueling photosynthesis, boiling mist into clouds to bring rain to parched ground and the countless other miraculous things we take for granted every day.
That moment is gone with another taking it’s place in the record books as a large portion of a large Texas is waterlogged and still in terrible distress. Same God. Same sun and moon. Radically different results.
This, on the heels of media-fueled firestorms disputing deep issues of truth and equality and how to represent our shared history fairly. Even the ugly bits. For my part, I confess my testimony shines brighter because I’ve been given the gift of grace to share the darker places honestly. There are scars because there is healing and this is the reference point orienting my course for the future. Focus makes all the difference, even for a nation.
If we’re truly honest (and a little quieter), it’s the truth we all must walk by and all we’re left with at the end of every day. Whether it’s one day gazing at the heavens in stark amazement or the next with eyes cast wide in disbelief at the overflowing waters of the sea, we must surely be struck by God’s power on display and our complete inability to do anything about it.
Not that we’re completely powerless. But we do tend to focus on things that really don’t matter– pushed along by popular opinion and media-driven mob mentality or most often frantically rushing through life striving to feed a seemingly insatiable appetite for goods and pleasure.
So bone wearying and tired.
What really matters?
I mean…REALLY. What is the end goal?
Have you noticed? It’s so easy to mindlessly tick off life events as if the only goal is their attainment while time slips through our fingers like the pages of a Very. Slender. Book. If we could imagine such a book and that each page represented a year of a “typical” life, most people would agree that 80 + years is a pretty long life, although to hold it in your hand it wouldn’t seem that long.
Our slender story begins when God the Author, in grand “Let there BE” fashion writes His miraculous “Once… Upon… A… Time…” and WHOOSH! We’re born! Then what?
Well… for most of us it takes about 18 pages to grow up! Page 3, we’re potty trained. Page 5, we start kindergarten. In the next 13 pages we lose teeth, fall in love, get mad at our parents, learn to drive, go to proms work our first job and GRADUATE! Then what?
Possibly, we start a full time job.
Or go to college.
Maybe we find a mate
Get married, settle down and start a little family with little stories of their own! Then what?
Pages 26 through 40-something have us raising that family. We might buy a house and a car, own some pets, take a few vacations and lots of pictures, SURVIVE TEENAGERS, work a whole lot more and retire at page 65. Then what?
Hopefully our health is still good and the economy’s been kind. In the final 20 or so pages we can finally enjoy life and maybe some grandchildren. Maybe we still need to work part time or there’s time to pursue some hobbies. Play a little golf… Take a cruise. And… then… what?
Nobody likes to talk about it, but at some point, the book of our earthly life will come to a close. There will be no more pages left to turn and no more time left on earth to write our story. We will die. Then what?
Our earthly story is over but it’s not the end of us.
At this point, God’s word teaches that the only two options for our final “Then What” are either eternal joy with Him in heaven because of the forgiveness we embraced through the cross of Jesus… or it’s the justice of eternal suffering and separation in hell because we refused to repent and receive His gift of salvation.
See, hopefully, at some point in the preceding pages of our life we heard and received God’s saving Gospel by faith. We understood we are sinners separated from God, but in His rich mercy, He made a way offering us forgiveness by sending his Son, Jesus who lived a sinless life and then took our place and paid the price on the cross for our sins. And then what?
He defeated death and rose again on the 3rd day to claim the victory for us. So that we can live truly ALIVE now no matter how many “pages” we have and then.. someday when our earthly chapter closes, the next one begins with God eternally in heaven.
But only For those who believe.
Only For those who receive.
It’s what Jesus is teaching about in John 14: 6 when He said
“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
I don’t know what page you’re on today. Me? I’m on page almost-50-something. I don’t know how many “pages” I have left. None of us does.
What I can tell you is that at some point on about “page” 13 or 14, I heard the Gospel and received God’s salvation offered through Jesus. Since then, all of my “Then What? ” events have been forever shaped and guided by God’s Holy Spirit. Not living perfectly or without pain, but with a purpose.
That moment of decision causes me to joyfully testify and share about God’s mercy and goodness and to care enough that someone else may know Him too and ask, now what?
Maybe today you need to believe and receive God’s gift of salvation and start writing a new story on the pages you have remaining. So when there are no more words left to write in your earthly story the very next chapter begins in His presence. I’m here for you.
Maybe you say you believe but you haven’t been living like it and you know deep inside that needs to change. Today.
This matters because our stories are never written in isolation and in a grander way, so many of our moments blend and count in the lives of others.
We need to live like that.
We need to love….like that.
Because, let’s face it: time… is short and the pages… are really few.