The State of Time

At the stroke of midnight December 31, theoretically we all cross the border into the year 2014. I know that it is an imaginary line, but it is an entryway into what is often a bizarre land. The year 2014 is just another part of the land of time. It is a state we will visit that we have never been in before.

Time is an unusual thing. You cannot see it or touch it, and yet it surrounds all of us. It dictates so many things in our lives. This State of Time is divided into 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes and 31,536,000 seconds. By the way, as you have read this far you have already used up about 30 seconds of your yearly allotment. But since you have over a half million minutes, spend a few of them thinking about what life will be like in this amazing land, this State of Time.

Actually, this state has three counties. The counties are named Was, Will Be, and Is. Most of our days will be spent visiting these three counties in the State of Time. Since you and I will spend so much time here, let me just briefly describe what the landscape is like in each of these counties.

First, look at the county of Was. It is a place dominated by memory. It is kind of a surreal place where nothing actually exists in the present. But it sure seems like everything is real as we visit it. Everyone will drift in and out of this county for there is a lot there. Many people will spend more time in Was than they will spend anywhere else. Was is filled with good and bad. Sometimes the good things that you see in Was can be bad things. The reason being you see them and you think that all of the rest of the State of Time should look like Was. It does not and it will not. That in itself can be discouraging, depressing and destructive.

You see some people visit Was and they cannot leave or they choose not to leave. Now I would be wrong if I did not tell you that there were some good things in that County of Was. There are great moments that can prove to be inspirational, encouraging and even instructive for your life. There are people that were there, achievements that you remember, victories that were celebrated and they remain in Was.

But there are also hurtful things in Was that need to be dropped, left and forgotten. No doubt some of those things are what Paul was pointing to in his own life when he said, “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before” (Phil. 3:13). Here is a man who had been abused, misused, beaten, jailed, ignored and isolated. But he refused to let those things, one or all of them, shape his life away from Was.

For just a few moments let’s leave Was and go to the county of Will Be. This county is a land that is filled with high mountains and grand structures. Well, actually it is the land of plans, hopes and marvelous possibilities. This county is just brimming with the anticipation of joy, new achievements and exciting new relationships. There are people who spend most of life in the county of Will Be. For some it becomes a fantasy world where nothing is actually accomplished and few good things are happening though they never lose heart and they never lose hope. They just keep on dwelling over in the land of a magical new day.

Surely, God does want us to dream and He wants us to plan, project and strategize to do His will. If someone just stays in the county of Will Be, nothing ever really happens. They are like the folks that plan meetings in order to plan other meetings. They are like the fellow whose philosophy was ready aim, ready aim, ready aim and he never pulled the trigger.

But in this State of 2014, let’s visit one other county. It is the county of Is. It is the only place that we can actually change anything. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” For it is in this county, that we can actually engage life and needs and the possibilities become realities. It is here that we actually live. We may go back to Was occasionally and enjoy visiting Will Be, but it is in Is that we function. It is in Is that lives are changed, souls are saved, growth takes places and achievements are celebrated. So what must we do? So that you can be your best, let me suggest three things that can happen in Is.

You can grow. You can follow the guidelines and the dictates of our Lord and watch for possibilities of spiritual, physical, intellectual and emotional growth. You can grow in the county of Is.

In Is, you can observe. By that I do not mean you are to just sit and watch the world go by, but you can observe others and the needs that may be there and the possibilities that exist. Listen to Jesus as He says, “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35). There are opportunities around us all of the time to make a difference in someone’s life, to share the Good News of Jesus with someone, and to share the redemptive and restorative power of Jesus with the people that we meet. But you will have to live in Is and keep your eyes open and observe.

Finally, you can do. For virtually every one of us, there will be opportunities that will come every day to do something that will be a blessing to others and that will honor our Lord. You do not need to spend 365 days procrastinating. Do what needs to be done! Let God use you!

Over these hills and valleys in the State of 2014, there will be mission opportunities, moments of encouragement, times of reconciliation and joys of achievement. But from one to the next to the next, let God lead you to do what He wants you to do. And when you and I grow, observe and do, we will see the first letters of each word spell God. It may well be that if you follow that, you will find God at work in and through your life regardless of whether you are at the workplace, at home, at church, on a ball field, in a store or in a Sunday School Class, and He is busy blessing you.

Jim Futral
Executive Director-Treasurer