Have you ever walked in a cemetery and noticed gravestones with just the date of birth and date of death? Often there is a line between the two dates. As you look at that date it is basically saying this person was born on this first date and he/she died on the second date. That line represents the life lived in the meantime between those two dates. Much of life is lived in the meantime — between dreams and reality, between hope and fulfillment, between the death of a loved one and moving on with life.
How does one live after the meantime? Surviving a meantime is one thing, but living after a meantime is quite different and far more important than surviving a meantime.
In the minutes following the catastrophic earthquake off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on December 26, 2004, a wall of seawater more than ninety feet high surged at two miles per second and inundated stretches of the remote western coast. Sections of that coast sank three to six feet.
The historic 9.3 magnitude earthquake is among the most powerful recorded since 1900 and left an estimated 288,000 people dead. The village of Lampuuk had a population of 6,500 before the disaster. After the body count and the grim task of adjusting the population only 700 remained. For those for many thousands who didn’t make it their meantime ended; for 700 residents it continued.
Living through the tsunami was one thing. Living after the tsunami proved to be quite a different matter. So, how does one live after a meantime? Are there some principles we can latch on to that will help us live in the meantime.
First we need to appreciate the Past. Don’t hate the past. It would seem we live in age where hating everything about America’s passed is fully acceptable: never mind the great strides in equality that have been made over the last century. There is some teaching going on in the halls of higher learning that says “it is okay and even acceptable to hate the past of this country and even try and destroy it. It’s okay to hate people in the present for the sins of the past and even harm or persecute them” contrary to what Ezekiel 18 says. Don’t live in the past. Don’t worship the past. It is easy to worship the past when one has fond memories of a deceased loved one. It is natural to recall joyous moments of such a relation. But to worship the past is to live in the wilderness of the past. So how are you to relate to the past? You cannot and do not want to erase it from your memory. Rather, you must appreciate the past.
Second we to need to Celebrate the present. We are never too old to celebrate the present. In Joshua 14:10 – 11, Caleb says, “I am eighty-five years old and I can still travel and fight!” He was saying with David, “This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24 RSV). Caleb was celebrating a promise God had made to him over 40 years earlier.
Someone has said, “Yesterday is a canceled check; tomorrow is a promissory note; today is the only currency you have. Spend it wisely; celebrate it joyfully!”
Third, anticipate the Future. One is never too old to anticipate the future. Caleb at eighty-five said, “Give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12). Despite being eighty-five Caleb felt he could be useful to the LORD. He was looking for a new home in Canaan, we as Christians; look for a new home in heaven in the future. What is your meantime like?
Scott and Jane Johnson minister with East Faulkner Church of Christ and BRG Bible. Bible questions can be sent to [email protected]