by: Gary L. Hutchens
This is the first Sunday of another new year. This is the forty-third bulletin article that I have written marking the beginning of a new year, eighteen of them with this congregation. I have had the privilege of writing four articles marking the beginning of new decades and the most unique experience of writing one that marked a three fold new beginning: a new year, a new decade and a new millennium.
As a very young child it seemed as though a year was almost an interminable period of time. The school year, especially, seemed as though it would never end. Through my teen years time continued to drag. At eighteen or nineteen it seemed as though I would never get to be twenty one, a full fledged legal adult at that time. That was something of a contradiction to me since, by the time I turned twenty one, I had already been married for two and one half years, been working and operating in an adult world for three years and had been in military service for over two years. But once I became legal the years seemed to click off ever more quickly.
Anymore, the expression “time flies” seems like an understatement. Some of that sense may be due to the continuing emphasis that our culture places upon speed. We’re always seeking ways to do things faster. However, as we cut down production time, we simply fill the time we save with more tasks. As we accomplish more, we’re always seeking ways to accomplish more yet, a never ending cycle that seems to wind itself around our necks in an ever tightening noose.
But time is moving quickly, and each passing year brings each of us closer to the day when our personal time on this earth will be over. I’ve lost a wonderful wife and been blessed with another, equally wonderful. I have sixteen precious grandchildren, sixteen eternal souls. Each day brings all of us closer to that day of reckoning when God will hold mankind accountable for the way they have lived their lives, that day when He will bring time, as this world knows it, to an abrupt end.
With the passing of time I’ve come to realize that the real basis of life does not consist in how many jobs we get done, how many promotions we accumulate, how much money we save or how many things we possess. What gives life meaning is our spiritual identity. We’re created in God’s image. He has an eternal home prepared for us with Him. Getting there, and hopefully taking others with us, is what life is all about. Serving God here is tied to our getting there. Teaching others this truth is part of serving God here. The devil has been very skillful at getting people to focus only on this life and to put God in the background of their thinking.
As the Lord’s church, if we’re not careful we can also get caught up in the material side of life. Our facilities are important, but they’re only a means to an end, providing a comfortable and convenient setting in which to worship God, study His word and teach others the gospel. We need to focus on getting souls in the seats, people who need to hear the gospel. We need to reach out to them in effective, purposeful ways. We need to focus on our own need to be at services and on the importance of our children to be in Bible classes. We need to pray for, and seriously talk to, our brothers and sisters in Christ who either no longer attend or who attend sporadically.
Here we are at the beginning of another new year. Time is passing, getting shorter. We have work to do. Souls are at stake. Our souls may be at stake. There is precious little time left. Let us use this year wisely, squeeze out of it as much good as we can for the cause of Christ. Let us use our time in such a way as to be able, when our time is up, to feel good about the way we used it. Let us live this year and every year, first and foremost, to God’s glory…
Gary L. Hutchens