It never ceases to amaze me how fast time goes and we find ourselves looking back and realising that much of the year has passed in a flash. The Christian year is very busy between March and June with the Lenten season followed by Easter, then Ascension and finally Pentecost. Each period has a very special meaning to us as we go through the final days of Jesus’ life on earth. Lent is a good time for self examination and it is often a time when we grow in our spirituality and our relationship with our Lord. The celebration of Easter with all its joy is the high point of the year as we come to the moment when Jesus died and rose again, paying the penalty of our own sinfulness and then going on to conquer death and, indeed, Satan. No longer does the devil have a hold over us. We are liberated into new life in Christ.
We now look toward that poignant moment when the disciples bade farewell to their dear friend, as Jesus ascended into heaven. Would that be the last time they would see him? Was that the end of it all? Not at all, Jesus promised he would return to consummate the age and we wait in anticipation for that moment. But when will that be?
Many people speculate about that and in the last 100 years a huge amount of literature declaring that we are living in the end times and that Jesus return in imminent has been published. Interpretation of Scriptures, especially the book of Revelation seems to point to the deterioration of the world and the end of the age being within our life time. This speculation may have had some good in that it has stimulated people to look at their own faith and, perhaps, made them draw closer to their Lord and Saviour. But, I have a problem with determining a date. Yes, Jesus did say that we should watch for the signs. In Matthew’s Gospel he talks about cataclysmic events like wars and earthquakes as being harbingers of the end (Matthew 24:7). We have in the past century seen unprecedented violence in wars. We have also witnessed the reporting of more and more seismic events as well. It may seem that the end is indeed nigh, but are we not missing the point? Being so overwhelmed with the bad news of the world we often take our eye off the Good News of Jesus. We should be aware of our surroundings and the teachings of Matthew 24 are good for us to take cognisance of but in verse 36 he says, “No one knows when that day or time will be, not the angels in heaven, not even the Son. Only the Father knows.” In verse 42 he continues, “So always be ready, because you don’t know the day your Lord will come.” My question to you therefore as we look toward the Ascension of our Lord on 30th May, is this. How prepared are you to meet your Lord and Redeemer? Preparation is not about how much of the Bible you know or how many spiritual gifts you have been given. It is not about being good and doing the right thing all the time. What it is about is quite simple and yet, for many, so profoundly difficult. It is about building a living, loving relationship with God. Getting to know Him as your heavenly Father is all important. Jesus called him Abba, which was a term of endearment like calling an earthly father Daddy. Are you there? Can you honestly call your heavenly Father Abba. If you can, if your love for Him is growing, then surely, as Jesus said, you are not far from the kingdom of heaven.
God bless each of you as we head for the feast of Ascension.