1 Peter 4:7-8, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins”
I don’t know about you, but while driving to work, visiting my children in another state, or traveling on vacation, I love to read road signs, and especially the ones on billboards. With that said, I would like to share with you today an article I came across authored by Ken Davis. The article is entitled, “Signs of the Times” and is very appropriate for the age in which we live. I sincerely trust it will speak to your own heart as it did mine.
Signs are designed to grab our attention. They alert us to danger or promote some product. Some signs, however, defy understanding. The following are signs found in real life:
(1) On a bag of Fritos: You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.
(2) On packaging for a Rowenta Iron: Do not iron clothes on body.
(3) On a Korean kitchen knife: Warning. Keep out of children.
(4) On an American Airlines packet of nuts: Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.
(5) On a Swedish chain saw: Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the exit row of an airliner cruising at thirty thousand feet. In front of me is a briefing card with these words boldly printed on top: If you are sitting in an exit row and you cannot read this card or cannot see well enough to follow these instructions, please tell a crew member. It seems to me that if I can’t read or see well enough to read the instructions on the card, I’m going to have an awfully hard time following its instructions. That’s no worse than the large billboard you can see just before the exit to the Louisville Expo Center. It announces, Tattoos while you wait. Excuse me, but isn’t waiting a pretty solid requirement for getting a tattoo? Tattoos on the go are pretty much out of the question. I can’t even conceive of Tattoos while you jog. And I’ve seen a jewelry store in Denver that promises to pierce ears “half off” on Thursdays. Uh … thanks but No Thanks!
Near our home is the highest paved road in the continental United States. Trail Ridge Road winds over a mountain pass at 12,183 feet. It takes my car two hours to struggle to the top. But I can see for hundreds of miles in every direction from the summit. Some overachiever employed by the State of Colorado, a true Master of the Obvious, has erected a huge sign at the summit. Here is the full text of that sign: HILL. No, lie! They’ve also included a picture of a hill, just in case you might mistake the next fifteen-mile luge ride as a large dip. Speaking of dips, who decides the location of those signs? Usually it’s only after peeling myself off the ceiling of the car that I see the dip sign. I feel strongly that a dip sign should be more of a warning than an acknowledgment. All these signs do is accurately describe the person who placed them there.
As a child I once saw a man on the street wearing a sandwich board. On his front sign, in large letters, were the words, “THE END IS NEAR!” What end! I asked. How near? The answer I received was chilling. There was no time to wait for tattoos or to get ears pierced half off. I was told that the cataclysmic demise of the earth was just around the corner. For several nights I lay awake wondering if those bumps and thumps in the darkness were the beginning of the end. I checked under my bed regularly to see if The End might be hiding there. But the weeks rolled by and I awoke to one sunrise after another. In time, the power of the message faded into obscurity. I went back to living under the false assumption behind which most people cringe: There is no end. No one knows exactly when the end will come, but the truth is printed on the rearview mirrors of every new car: Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. The Bible is clear that the end will come and that it’s nearer than we think. The man with the sandwich board has a healthy respect for the truth.
John Ortberg learned this valuable lesson from his grandmother. The genteel woman was a ruthless Monopoly player. She seemed unbeatable. But one day the young Ortberg prevailed. His enthusiastic celebration was interrupted by a lesson he never forgot. He was gloating over his victory, gleefully dragging all the property and money he’d won toward himself. His grandmother said, “Just remember, John: When the game is over, it all goes back in the box. The money, the hotels, the cars, everything goes back in the box. My pastor detailed the parallel truth found in life: A businessman with hotels and houses and a huge bank account feels a twinge in his chest as he finishes his morning job, and in a heartbeat everything goes back in the box.
A teenager slides behind the wheel of his new car. His girlfriend sits smiling beside him. An oncoming car crosses the centerline, and it all goes back in the box. When the game is over, we too go back in the box. Everywhere we find signs that this life is not forever. If you don’t believe the Bible, then look in the mirror. If you need more proof, conduct a search for anyone born two hundred years ago. Or take a quiet walk through a cemetery. History provides perfect evidence that the game will end. We can’t pinpoint the precise time, but we know the end may be closer than it appears. At that time it won’t matter what kind of career we’ve built, how many hotels we’ve accumulated, or what kind of cars we drove. It all goes back in the box. You never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.
Just a Thought:
Now that I’m fifty years closer to the end, the message seems less chilling. It’s almost comforting. It serves as a reminder to concentrate on the things that are most important: my Lord, my children, and my wife. I’m more eager to make a difference in the lives of the people I touch. I’m more eager to spend time nurturing my relationship with Jesus Christ. I think about one more little sign. This one used to hang on the wall in my Sunday school class. It read, “Only one life ‘twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Now that’s a good sign.
(1) Are you concentrating on the important things as stated above? Or
(2) Are you concentrating on the things of this world that will be left behind?
(3) Remember, only those things done for Christ, will last for an eternity!