But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. ~2 Peter 3:8-15
When I read this passage, I envision it as a timeline on a painted canvas stretched out across a distance so vast I cannot see its end. I picture myself walking ever so slowly along its length, softly drawing my hand along each bump of paint, experiencing every event as it unfolds under my fingertips like braille. When I come to the story of the Israelites and their years of living as slaves under an oppressive Egyptian rule I pause and remember God’s promise to Abram that after 400 years they would be freed.
I try to imagine what it must have been like for each generation to pass on to the next, the promise of God that freedom would come someday. I wonder what “someday” must have felt like when generation after generation died and still they remained in slavery. How many were able to believe God’s words when the promise didn’t come in their lifetime?
As in a looking at any painting, it is not enough to view the canvas so close that only the individual brush strokes are noticed. In limiting myself to this narrow perspective when I walk along God’s timeline, I could be left wondering about God’s faithfulness. I must step back from the reality of the details and allow for the perspective of the Master as it was intended to be seen. In this same way, the story of God and His creation from the very beginning, His plan for salvation, God’s masterpiece, is meant to be viewed as a whole.
Advent is a time when we prepare for the birth of Jesus. It is a special season in the Christian calendar that is designed to quiet our hearts, slow our pace and experience the painting up close. As we do this, the nearness of God’s presence reminds us of a reality outside of ourselves and we are drawn into the wider story. As we make ready for Christmas, that joyful season where we posture ourselves in adoration toward the infant King, we remember that as Christ has come, He will also come again. We burst in gratitude for the gift of our Saviour’s birth, but we reflect on the brokenness of the world and our hearts also long for His return. Standing back from the details, we “see” that it is not only the story of Jesus’ birth, it is a promise that more of what He has said will come to completion. He promises that specific events will take place and we as His people, will walk into a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. This is a place in which we long to arrive.
While we dwell in this tension between living in the present, but also aching in hope for Christ’s return, remember that God is not slow in coming back. He has the broad perspective. He grieves for His creation. The gift you have received in Jesus, is a gift He offers to everyone. He is long suffering in His waiting, wanting that “none should perish.” God’s patience means salvation. God’s patience means that in the same way He waited for you and I, He is waiting for our loved ones, our friends, our neighbours. He is waiting…
In the meantime, as active participants in God’s great story, He calls us to “live holy and Godly lives… and to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with Him.” God has entrusted this world to our care. We must recognize our place in it, persevere with humility, grace and love, seeking to be the hands and feet of Jesus not just during the Christmas season, but every day until He returns. All of us are strokes in God’s timeline. His promises may not come to pass in our lifetime, but we must be steadfast in our faith, diligently doing the work He has prepared in advance for us to do, declaring we believe the truth that God is always faithful.
“Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” ~ John 1:29
Rina is quickly becoming one of the “oldies” in the church. She has been around since just after the doors of this church opened 28 years ago. Rina (along with her husband) raised her four children in this church and while some have strayed from the truth, Rina knows that God is faithful. After all, He saved her from complete darkness and so she knows without doubt that He is able to do the seemingly impossible in anyone. Rina loves to walk her dogs, drink coffee and exercise. She enjoys the Fall and Winter rains with their grey days, the Spring rains that reveal rainbows, and the brief sunshine of the Summer. Odd duck? Probably. Content? Very. Rina loves to pray for others. Need prayer? Ask :)