I am teaching world history to a couple of kids this year, and the first day of class was definitely my favorite. Before we discussed the Pharaohs, the Peloponnesian War, or the Renaissance, we started by drawing diagrams all over the white board. I wanted to make sure we had the foundation down: what is all of history about, and what are we doing here?
I started by drawing a diagonal, upward line, and one by one, we marked off the definitive events of history: Creation, the Fall, the birth of Christ, the Cross … and at the very end, Christ’s return. But between those last two dots, what we consider “history” and our lives squeeze in. With that perspective, our lives are merely a blip on the grand scene of God’s redemptive story, much less of eternity.
After today, Christmas will be over. The gifts will be unwrapped, used a few times, and tucked away. The food will be gone, lights taken down, Christmas trees stacked in attics and closets for next year. Life will return to the same routine of jobs … school … housework. Despite our best hopes, 2021 won’t be a magic potion to rid the world of pandemics, corrupt administrations, and masks.
Life may not change, but we have tremendous hope that the very events of history we are living are moving toward God’s grander scheme, all of creation groaning for the final consummation of Christ’s rule. We long for His return, because our salvation will be complete, the church united, and most of all, we will see His face. That is our hope. Our stay when life falls apart. Our vision when the narrow focus of this world tires.
Do we feel caught in the middle? Yes, in some sense we do wait. But we also act. If anything, the celebration of Christ’s first coming and the anticipation of his second should create an intense urgency, for the work He has left us with is far from done. As yet, there are an estimated 6,701 unreached people groups, countless believers to be discipled, children in public schools across our nation who have never heard about Jesus, students from around the world seeking truth in our own cities, refugees desperate for a new home and hope …
This coming year, in light of Christ’s eminent return, my prayer is that I would press on to know God deeper, pray with more desperation—and hope—minister to others with more urgency, and love other more deeply. Will you pray with me?
 I hesitate the mention Joshua Project’s current number, because I don’t want to suggest Christ’s return depends on us or that we are able to exactly determine if Jesus was referring to the same “people group” idea as we have created, seeing ethno-linguistic lines are becoming more blurred. For more on the discussion, I would recommend this article by Josh Baylor. Still, God is yet calling people to himself from every tribe, tongue, and nation, and the fact that we can know with certainty He has people among those who have never heard the gospel gives us great urgency to proclaim the gospel wherever He calls us.