Bill Tinsley

As the New Year dawns, we focus on looking forward.

The past is written, and, although it will continue to be reinterpreted in our minds by selective memory, we know what it is.

The future, though, is always difficult to predict.

Some things seem fairly predictable on the near horizon.

We will continue to grapple with COVID, ever changing, ever morphing.

We are hopeful the omicron variant will quickly burn itself out and that we will turn the corner to normalcy in 2022, but we don’t know.

People will marry and babies will be born.

We will continue to educate our children and our youth whether at home, online, in person, masked or unmasked.

Innovations and changes in technology will continue. Electric cars are coming. The iPhone, iPad and iWhatever will continue their march toward ubiquity.

The Bible teaches us two things about looking forward.

First, take the long look. The future may be much longer than we ever imagined. The Bible says, “A day to the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day.” And “He keeps his covenant to a thousand generations.”

If a generation is 20 years, the average length of time between the birth of a generation and the birth of their children, then each century contains five generations. Based on that assumption, 140 generations have lived since Isaiah wrote this prophecy and only 101 generations since Jesus was born. A thousand generations would stretch human history to the year 20,000.

I am not proposing that we take the thousand generations literally or that we extrapolate the thousand years as one day to project the length of time the human race might survive, but I think it is fair to conclude that God’s view of history might be much longer than we ever imagined.

Rutger Bregman postulated in his book, “Humankind,” that if all creation were viewed as one year, human civilization made its appearance in the last 60 seconds before midnight of the last day.

Secondly, the Bible teaches that Jesus’ return is always imminent.

He can return to earth at any hour of any day. Jesus said, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour that you do not expect him,” (Matthew 24:44). To do this we must live lives that are generous, kind, forgiving, honest and responsible. We must clothe the naked, feed the hungry, provide clean water to the thirsty, shelter the stranger and care for those in prison. (Matthew 25:34-46).

As we look forward, we need to prepare and plan as if many generations will follow.

We need to pass to the next generation a better planet and a better world. At the same time, we need to live as if Christ will return today.

The interesting conclusion from all of this is that if we live as if Christ might return today, we will also live in such a way that we pass forward to the next generation a better world.

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experience from a faith perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.

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