While with ceaseless course the sun
Hasted through the former year,
Many souls their race have run,
Never more to meet us here:
Fix’d in an eternal state,
They have done with all below;
We a little longer wait,
But how little none can know.
As the winged arrow flies,
Speedily the mark to find;
As the lightning from the skies
Darts and leaves no trace behind,
Swiftly thus our fleeting days
Bear us down life’s rapid stream.
Upwards, Lord, our spirits raise;
All below is but a dream.
Thanks for mercies past receive,
Pardon of our sins renew;
Teach us, henceforth, how to live
With eternity in view;
Bless Thy Word to young and old,
Fill us with a Saviour’s love;
And when life’s short tale is told,
May we dwell with Thee above.
[John Newton. Olney Hymns, Book 2, No.1]
‘Go to now, ye that say, “To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain”:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.
For what is your life?
It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.’
As we enter 2021, more than ever we appreciate the fleeting nature of life. The words of the poet capture with pathos the stark reality of 2020: ‘many souls their race have run, never more to meet us here’, and reminds all of us that we cannot count on much time. 2021, ‘as the winged arrow, flies speedily the mark to find’.
Likewise, in the Scripture, James cautions us to change the way we think about our own life in the days that lie ahead. It is foolishness to view 2021 as just another year, or to look forward expectantly to ‘life returning to normal’.
Let us recognise this life ‘is even a vapour’. Let us, therefore, begin ‘to live with eternity in view’. This will impact us in three ways:
1) ‘Be ye reconciled to God, for He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin’ – 2 Corinthians 5:20
2) ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’ – Romans 12:2
3) ‘Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not’ – Luke 12:40