A voice says, “Cry out.” And I said, “What shall I cry?” “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.” (Isaiah 40:6)
Time laughs at us. It sees the monuments we raise, listens to the boasts that come from our mouths, and it giggles.
It knows that as it passes by, all that we are, and all that we have done, will fade away, and flee from memory.
Where is the splendor of Imperial Rome or of Ancient Babylon? What is left of the glory that was Greece? Only crumpled buildings and weathered markers remain. Who today is afraid of the Roman Centurion or the Greek Hoplite—fierce warriors in their day? U.S. troops have walked the dunes on which the Babylonian civilization sat along the Euphrates—and they called it a sandbox. Nothing more.
A new year often begins with hope and plans. That is not a bad way to start. But if that hope is built upon our self, it is only what the poet called, “all valiant dust that builds on dust.”
Isaiah continues, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, because the breath of the LORD blows on them. Surely the people are grass.” (Isaiah 40:7)
It’s unsettling to hear us described in that way. Are we so insignificant? Do our efforts accomplish nothing? Does time have the last laugh?
“The grass withers and the flowers fall…” But, it is not the passing of time that causes this. The scorching blast comes not from the winds aloft, but from higher up—from heaven. “The breath of the Lord blows on them.”
After all we have hoped and dreamed; after all we have worked and sacrificed for; does it only add up to futility? Can we never escape the death sentence, “Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return…”?
We are not left doubting. The prophet continues, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)
And what does God say with his words? What does he say will never fade away with the passing of time?
Jesus said, “Whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:26)
Something will endure forever. We will! Time may attack our bodies, but it cannot touch our everlasting souls. It will not weaken us. We have God’s word on that:
“Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)
Time’s laughter at our frailty is hollow. God’s promise is holy.
God of our fathers, the passing of time into a new calendar year reminds us that our stay on earth is short. We are here only on TDY. It impresses upon us that nothing we accomplish will last—except for what we do in service to you. Be with us in the future, as you have been at our side in the past. Bless us for Jesus’ sake.
Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain
and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida
Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military