Every time another of my children launches, I get that same feeling you get on a standardized test when the clock runs out and the exam monitor calls out, “Time’s up, pencils down.” Each time it hits like a ton of bricks. Over? Already?
Sending the youngest child off to college is one of the most excruciating experiences I’ve had as a mother. I longed to sweep him back up in my arms and carry him home. How did this come so soon? I remember as clearly as I remember my name his first day of kindergarten when he ran out to catch the bus. The sun had not yet risen, and a small vertical embankment stood between our lawn and the road to the bus stop. He stopped at that point and exclaimed, “I must what I must!” before jumping off and running to join the other waiting children.
That was just yesterday. Now he’s in college over 4,000 miles away, and my season of influence has come, for the most part, to a sudden end.
On the very same day I said goodbye to Calvin and his brother Colson in Alaska, my father’s time ran out as well, when he went to be with the Lord. My dad’s death should have come as no surprise, as he had been ill for a very long time. Oddly, even though I’d known Calvin was going away to college and that my dad was going to die, both events stunned me. Some part of me had held onto the belief that things would remain just as they were.
I am not unique. We live in an age where people spend their lives in flat denial that all of our days are numbered–that the God of the universe will at some point say to each of us, “Time’s up.” Every person will at a time already appointed stand before the God who is judge. How often these days do we hear the phrase, “Only God can judge,” typically argued by persons who do not believe he actually will judge? Be not deceived. God is holy and He is judge.
We should shudder at this terrifying fact: Every wrong thought, every selfish deed, every angry word spoken, every lustful glance given, indeed every single sin we’ve ever committed in all time will be laid out before God and judged. Not one of us can stand before a holy God and be found even close to worthy of anything but hell.
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:4-6, ESV)
The good news is that for those of us who have put our trust and faith in Christ, the price for our sin has been paid. In the greatest but most inequitable exchange of all time, Jesus Christ has granted us pure and complete holiness in trade for our wretched sinful condition for which he died. He has paid our ransom, that we might receive eternal life, escaping judgment!
“But God proves his love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8, Berean Study Bible)
Here is the power and the good news of the Gospel. When we confess our sins and repent of them, calling upon the name of Jesus and putting our faith in Him, we no longer need to fear that “Time’s up” instant nor the eternal wages for our sin. He delivers us from the curse of sin and death. We are free to live lives of obedience, now and forevermore.
My dad had done this. Albeit late in life, my dad turned from his sin and trusted Christ as his Savior. I will see my dad again on that day when my time is up.
If you’re reading this and you haven’t given your life to Christ, your time is not yet up. It could be decades from now or this very night. Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow. Do you want to continue to live for yourself and receive the penalty of your sin, or are you willing to lay it all down and follow Christ? The choice is yours. Make it soon.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, ESV)