The sun was coming up in all it’s golden splendor peaking over the tree line of our backyard. Almost all of the snow has finally melted, and yesterday afternoon, I could taste a hint of the coming spring in the air. It will be a few weeks yet until coats can be stored and sandals pulled out of the closet, but the warmth is coming. The flowers are coming. The bird songs are coming.
I sipped my coffee soaking all the hope and beauty in. Then, I heard echoes of a podcast coming from another room of the house. A commentator was discussing the continuing trajectory of the sexual revolution, the gravity of the political changes we are witnessing, and the general moral decline of the nation in which we live.
My heart that had felt so light and free one moment ago as it took in the beauty of the sunrise was now weary and heavy laden. Sin. I was so tired of sin. Sin in the news, sin in my house, sin in my workplace, sin in my church, sin in my friends, sin in books, sin in music, sin in sports, sin in movies, sin in politics, sin in school, and most of all, sin in my own heart. Sin. It’s steady presence brings with it an air of despair just as the sunrise brought one of hope. And even though I know it’s not true, sometimes, the darkness of sin feels a bit more powerful than the light of redemption.
In Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo confesses to Gandalf, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.” How often is that very same sentiment on my own lips? Even wise Gandalf agrees when he says, “So do I, and so do all who live to see such times.” No one jumps at the thought of living a life of constant war with the darkness, no one hopes for a life tainted by sin in every corner. “But that is not for them to decide.” Gandalf continues, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
And there’s the wisdom, the statement that forces Frodo, and I, to come to terms with reality. To stop wishing away our circumstances, our place in history, our weariness, and to choose what we will do with our lives in spite of them.
Every man or woman who has walked this earth since Adam has felt the weight of sin. The world that God made and called good was ruined by one act of disobedience, one act of unbelief. An act that took but a moment plunged the world into pain and darkness for centuries to come. Everyone has lived in the circumstances in which we find ourselves now: in a world of sin, with a heart naturally bent towards it. The good news though, is that just as one man in one moment plunged humanity into sin, another Man in another moment made a way to rescue humanity from it. The darkness is thick indeed, but it has not overcome the light.
We cannot change the time in which we live. We cannot live in an alternate reality. We cannot bury our heads in the sand and tune out all the wrong around us. After all, sometimes the most despairing view of sin isn’t outside of us, but inside.
So then, what do we do in this time we wish wasn’t ours? In his tender and wisdom laden letter to Timothy, Paul writes, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and imposters go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:12-15 ESV)
What do we do with the time given us? We continue in what we have firmly believed.
We believe Jesus Christ has atoned for our sin and made us children of God rather than enemies. We believe that this world is not our home. We believe that though this dark and weary world seems to grow darker, one day darkness itself will end. We believe there are ears that still need to hear the message of hope and redemption. We believe that our Lord Jesus, the One who set us free will come again to wipe away every tear of His people and restore all that has been lost. We believe that until that day, His grace is sufficient to carry us onward. We believe He will finish the work He began.
Because we believe these things, we do not despair at the time in which we find ourselves, even when we wish, like Frodo, that it wasn’t ours. Rather, we set our eyes directly forward and we continue in the truth. Because regardless of what it feels like, the darkness has not overcome the light.
“I have said these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
A day is coming when sin and darkness will be no more. Take courage, dear heart, and press on.