By Chaplain (Col) Stephen W. Leonard, USA, Ret.
Jesus: “Behold, I am making all things new.” Revelation 21:5
December 31 moves to January 1 in a mere split second. It’s a new year! We make a big thing out of it, usually. Glenda and I this year were actually asleep. We didn’t watch the ball drop or even see the fireworks. We couldn’t keep awake. We must be an exciting pair. Not!
But what do most of us make out of a new year? It’s a national holiday frequently accompanied by family, fellowship, and food. Growing up, my church always had New Year’s Eve into New Year’s services. An hour or so before midnight on New Year’s Eve, everyone, young and old, gathered in the sanctuary for prayer—to pray in the new year, that is, prayer lasting until 5 minutes before midnight. Then, we would all traipse outside to watch the fireworks from the top of Pikes Peak, which loomed over Colorado Springs. The city was right at its foot. If it was a clear night, the fireworks were spectacular, launched from 14,115 feet. Everyone in or near Colorado Springs could see them.
One of these New Year’s services I remember best in my elementary school years was when a very elderly gentleman prayed clear through the midnight hour to about ten or fifteen minutes after midnight. The fireworks had come and gone! I was not a happy camper!
But then, which was more important? Prayer to our Heavenly Father, the Ruler of all, truly Sovereign over all things, or a fireworks display of which the memory of them would quickly pass and their manifestation did not accomplish anything really significant other than colorful entertainment for a number of minutes.
But what does “New Year’s” mean? Possibly an opportunity to recalibrate your calendar and maybe even your life? Remembering to write 2024 rather than 2023. Make resolutions that last a month, or two, or three. Not to be too cynical, but that is about as long as they last. Possibly review a year that is now history, and make plans for a new year in your life. Keep your entire life in view by the year such and such happened in you or your family’s life. In many families, there are new additions in the past year, either children, grandchildren, or even great-grands! A new in-law through marriage. And enjoying such additions of the new lives.
In all of this, we are creatures of time. “Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away….” We age with the moving clock. We cannot keep things the same; age is ever on the move. Death comes automatically as a consequence of age or sickness, never stopping accruing seconds, minutes, months, or years.
Life in eternity is a mystery to we creatures of time. We know nothing of timelessness this side of crossing that “river” into a timeless future. Having lived a life according to time, we do not quite know what the ceasing of time really means for us; “a thousand years is as a day in your sight, and a day is as a thousand years!” Those who have been in eternity for 50 years, getting a glimpse of you over their shoulder and saying, “Oh, there you are,” as though you had not been gone for any time at all. Will that be as it is?
It is an experience, timelessness, of which you know nothing and can barely try to imagine such in the next. Then you will have no tomorrows and no yesterdays. There will be no New Year’s. Time simply will not exist.
There is no knowledge in the Bible of what age we will be in heaven. I had a little girl, my third daughter, pass into heaven from her mother’s birth canal by reason of a knotted umbilical cord. I do not know what Samantha’s age is in her timeless heaven. By time from this life, were she to have lived, would be 45.
Nor do I know what my father’s age is there. He passed into glory at age 98, eight years ago. We may wonder if we will be the age of the Savior when he walked out of his tomb on Easter Sunday morning—around 33 years of age. Your actual age in heaven is a mystery. What age would you like to be and remain for eternity?
Whatever your experience in heaven, it will be perfect, for your Savior and the One who purchases your redemption is perfect. And “we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2). He has planned eternity, and it is beyond your imagination! Not to be feared, nor for you to be anxious, but to know BY FAITH He has you in His hand, and that He has determined what is best for you. He is trustworthy; it is for the very best to trust Him!