A new year, a new era, is ushered in. The old era is history.
It was the evening of December 31st. Jane and I had been inseparable since childhood, although in the past year, our lives had taken somewhat different paths. A year since our graduation, we’d been looking forward to this reunion with old friends. Throwing off the restraints of adulthood, we acted like teenagers again. Fireworks were illegal, but Mark, always the fun-loving rule-breaker, had somehow obtained a whole boxful. Thus we found ourselves having our reunion in a clearing down by the river, well out of town.
The sky was clear, the stars bright, and the outlines of trees clearly reflected on the slow-moving water. In the east, the lights of town glowed on the horizon. Funky music added to the party atmosphere. The middle of an Australian summer, there was just a nip in the air as we girls sat around the fire, rubbing our hands together and reminiscing. Card tables were heavily laden with party food. The guys were typical boys, goggling at the box of explosives, each with a beer in hand. Perhaps it was risky, mixing alcohol and fireworks, but we were young and invincible.
It was only a year since we’d left university, but how times had changed. We talked about our first year in the workforce, hopes and dreams, boyfriends (or lack thereof), frustrations, hobbies and more. Although my faithful friend, even Jane gave an almost imperceptible roll of her eyes as I excitedly related my newest adventure – an active Christian faith. The effect on the group was like throwing a bucket of water over the lively flames of the bonfire.
After a brief embarrassed silence, ever the true friend, Jane launched into her opinion of this year’s ‘Australian Idol’ winner. The flames leapt higher and my social ineptness was all but forgotten. I could feel her holding her breath when it came to discussing resolutions for the New Year. Amongst the girls’ good intentions about weight loss, exercise and self-improvement, she was expecting me to share my resolution – daily prayer and Bible study. I’d embarrassed her enough for one day, so held my tongue. It was sad to sense the distance developing between these dear friends, with whom I’d shared such happy years, and myself.
What happened next wasn’t the alcohol, although the fellows might have wondered for a brief moment. It wasn’t fireworks. The light wasn’t from the town. The noise wasn’t music coming from a parked car. What happened next was earth shattering. Literally.
The sky lit up. A huge cloud of light came from the east in a flash. The noise sounded like a trumpet, heralding the coming of a great military leader. The cool night air whooshed past as suddenly we were transported to another dimension. Time and space lost all meaning.
Our little group was now part of a huge crowd. The focus of the crowd was one whom I knew instinctively was my Saviour, Jesus Christ. He was also the Judge. Glancing at the white faces of my friends, I knew that like me, they were trembling right to the very core of their being.
Out of our little group, I was the only one to escape the flames. Jane’s desperate call and outstretched hand as she was whisked away to what I cannot bear to contemplate cut deep into my heart.
That was the beginning of the New Year. The New Era.
We who were spared now enjoy a perfect world. Our lives, the environment, everything is perfectly in balance. There are no more New Year’s Eve parties in the darkness. In fact, there is no more darkness! No more do we need worry about exercise and weight. I don’t even need to make an effort with prayer and Bible study. How could I NOT worship the one around whom this world revolves?
Sometimes I reminisce about my former life on the old earth. If I could return to that flawed dimension, I’d not hesitate to make Jane and others feel embarrassed. The message is too important. Ready or not, the New Era is imminent.
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word….” (2 Timothy 4:1-2a NIV)
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