July/August, 1998 Volume XIII Number 1

A line, not a circle

by Paul deParrie

Genesis 1:1 reads, "In the beginning, God . . ." Revelation 22:21's last word is, "Amen."
This is not great revelation in and of itself. It is just a fact. But when I look at it, I understand that history is a line not, as so many pagan cultures say, a circle. It begins with God and follows a straight course to a predetermined end.
Yes, history repeats itself in the sense that human beings seem to be infinitely capable of making the same mistakes over and over again. Yet, history still moves steadily towards its end point.
Restore to your thinking the idea that history is so-called because it is His (God's) story, not his (man's) story.
When I was a newer Christian, I thought that the end - meaning the return of Christ - would surely be here before 1980. As that time approached, I began to believe that it would be in the less-defined "in my lifetime."
I've come to the point now where I simply don't care. Oh, yes, talking eschatology is a fun pastime - when one has the time - but not important enough to hang my hat on anymore.
The change is more than just age and less than a doctrinal shift. It is more of a change of focus.
It all started with a very simple scripture reading:

"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
"Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing."
- Matthew 24:44-46 (KJV)

The essence of this verse is not the hour of the coming of the Son, but the so doing!
I learned that the timing of the end mattered not at all so long as the servant was "so doing" when He came. What a concept!
This changed my life in innumerable ways and still influences what I do every day. It was when I got hold of this verse that I truly understood that I needed to be doing the Word, not just knowing it. This is where my activism began. It's direction was always the subject of prayer, but no more would I be just a student of the Word, but I would become a servant of the Word.
What does this all have to do with history being a line?
Well, if history is a line from "In the beginning, God" through to "Amen," it is His-story not his-story. If it is God's story, then His servants - at least the ones who chose to be "so doing" - are the living characters in the continuation of the Book of Acts.
Regardless of whether the struggle which God places me in sees victory in my own lifetime or in my own eyes, it is His story of which I am a part and His ultimate victory of which I will partake.
Not a bad place to be.
So one month, I partake of a great victory in court having my stalking order overturned, the next month RICO is successfully used against Joe Scheidler. Neither of us knows the end of the things we have done. Could the opinion in my case be useful in overturning Scheidler's loss? Or maybe it will go the other way. God knows and is in control of the ultimate story - for it is His-story.
His-story is full of defeats which became victories - not the least of which is our Lord Himself who was wickedly killed. Think of Paul the apostle. The Devil finally stopped him from preaching all over the Roman world by putting him in prison. All Paul could do from there was write letters - to the Romans, Galatians, Corinthians, Ephesians. How many people could he hope to influence that way?
The long and the short of it is, if we are "so doing" the will of our Master, His-story is being made. When we reach that "Amen" - whether He appears in our lifetime or a thousand years from now - we will then see the perfect line between "In the beginning" and that time.
I know God. He is not wasting my efforts. Because of this knowledge, I can continue working and keep my eyes fixed on that blessed hope of His return.

A line, not a circle
Students burning newspapers (again)
Responding to the dating debate