Christmas Joy & the Sands of Time

The Immanuel Orchestra resounded in a particularly beautiful fashion on this day of homecoming – some time had passed since my shadow last danced across the sanctuary floor, and it showed.  Upon my return home yesterday after seasons away adventuring in a beloved nearby city, reality’s cold restraints constricted around my simple, college-aged heart and mind. My first thoughts encountered concerned the vast chasm of time that seemingly packed its things and bolted out life’s own front door without bothering to leave a note.  It seems unkind to do such a thing, yet time is known for its lack of loyalty on occasions where it is greatly desired to stay for dessert.  As a citizen of the college realm, time appears unforgiving in its means of changing things while I dance about in denial – that’s denial of a world beyond the enclosure of building friendships and undergoing education.  All the while, the sands of time unceasingly slip into the bottom portion of the hourglass, and it is this I often forget.  J.R.R. Tolkien, through a favorite character of mine, once described time cleverly and appropriately in riddle form:

 

“This thing all things devours:

Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;

Gnaws iron, bites steel;

Grinds hard stones to meal;

Slays king, ruins town,

And beats high mountain down.”

 

-Gollum, The Hobbit,

 

If time is successful in all these things – and the riddle rings true, it is – then it might appear necessary to consider time an enemy, would it not?  Christmas joy tends to withstand the test of fading memory through the years, and for some reason I find myself unsettled when thinking about how time has changed things in this life of mine.  How those of us who were just recently sprawled on a living room floor in pajamas, ripping apart candy cane-striped wrapping paper are old, and now dress more like society-contributing adults than sugar-plum-dreaming kids.  In such short time relatives have passed, loved ones have moved far away, and values and perspectives have been drastically altered.  Why is the contemplation of such changes found so chilling?

The life we live is like any story told – it cannot remain in the same place, otherwise there would be no story.  And these changes, rather than being a lamentation of what has come and been lost, should they not be a celebration of the one thing that has never once changed?  Through every short hair grown long, every alphabet block turned final exam, every allowance-earning chore turned full-time job, and every first cry turned final breath, there is but one thing that has not been altered – the reigning Lord of all things we know and cannot bring ourselves to know.  And what is more, He is outside of any time that our limited and vulnerable selves lie subject to.  As the quiet hands of time slowly pull down the walls of our health, money, home, and precious memories, are we not propelled closer to a time infinitely more precious?  Time then, seems to be a friend, rather than an enemy.

Thus, quite convincingly, this season of Christmas is cause to celebrate.  We celebrate the coming of the flawlessly constant one, how He – the only perfect being outside of the time that seems to govern us – humbly chose to be subject to it as a human being, and ultimately to be subject to death on a cross.  Jesus saw the effects of time, roughly thirty-three years of it, even.  He grew older, saw his surroundings change, and a friend come to betray him.  The passage of time that He created to encase our existence led to the perfect sacrifice that allows us to live eternally with Him, where time is no concept.  It seems, in this case, that the creation of time was for a perfectly beautiful purpose.

Therefore, take heart this season.  As the sands of time flow, remember that with every grain we are pushed closer to glory with Him who is the reason for this season we have set apart.  It is with this knowledge that we should always be celebrating.

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

- Malachi 3:6 (ESV)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

- Hebrews 13:8 (ESV)

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”

- James 1:17 (ESV)

“Before the mountains were brought forth,?or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.”

- Psalm 90:2 (ESV)

For Jared.

Grace, Peace, & Merry Christmas,

J. S. Wade

About the Author: The enemy whispers in my ear that I am unfit to carry the name of Jesus - he's right about that much.  But it is Jesus himself who pulls me to my feet and hands me a banner with his name on it anyway. You can find me on the web at http://bravingthefireandtamingthedragon.blogspot.com