by Joseph M. Stowell
The End. These are two of our most powerful words. Whether it's the end of a great book, a fabulous basketball game, a heart-wrenching drama, or a romantic evening out on the town, we all know how a finish feels. Once a moment has passed, it's gone.
Some points of completion, however, also launch fresh beginnings. For example, the courtships which filled our home with romantic intrigue a few years ago reminded us that our child-rearing years were coming to an end.
Yet this ending was also a beginning-a new chapter in our relationship as husband and wife and a wonderful new adventure for our children. Endings and beginnings are what life is all about. Somehow a finish doesn't seem so bad if it leads to something wonderful and new.
We are approaching the end of one of the most intriguing centuries in history. In many respects it has been a good season. Technology made quantum leaps forward. And the worldwide conquest for Christ excelled any previous missionary outreach.
Yet we also see things that cause us grave concern. The rising tide of secularism and the advent of a new wave of paganism threaten our values, our future, and the work of Christ. The beginning of a new century holds many unknowns, yet offers hope of great potential.
In this ongoing cycle of endings and beginnings, however, one beginning looms wonderfully close. In fact, we may be approaching the most significant ending/ beginning sequence in history. Our earth, tattered and worn through years of spiritual conflict, will emerge into the unhindered experience of full redemption. Every vestige of sin, each consequence of the Fall, will vanish.
We may be approaching the decade in which our Lord Jesus Christ returns for His own and initiates the completion of all things. For us, this ending will bring a new beginning-the repair of all that sin damaged in the Garden and the fulfillment of all the promises that bring us peace and confidence.
For Him, the end will be a beginning, too-the ultimate proof of His worthy power in the universe and the ultimate glorification of who He really is. There could be no greater moment. Lord, haste the day!
I am not one to jump on faddish bandwagons of speculation, nor am I a date-setter. But I am an observer. Never before in my life have I noticed so many events matching biblical statements about the return of Christ. History has seemingly pressed the fast-forward button. What we never thought possible in a lifetime is taking place in a moment.
I always wondered how the Antichrist would ever be able to unify such dramatic extremes as the East and the West. Miraculously, the polarization is dissolving.
Another indicator of the approaching end is the rise of supernatural activity. Satanism and witchcraft have never been practiced so openly as today. Wouldn't we expect that the forces of hell would unleash their most blatant attacks when their doom seems imminent?
The increase of natural disasters may be significant, too. The prophets predicted such phenomena at the end of the age.
All this makes me wonder if we may be quickly approaching the end-and a marvelous new beginning. Could it be that we are nearing the time of seeing Him, our Savior, face to face? Could it be that this struggle of flesh and fallenness will soon be over? Is it possible that soon I will finally feel the albatross of my earth-boundness lifted from my neck?
Could it be that these words from Revelation will soon be more than promise? "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.…I am making everything new!'" (21:3-5).
I certainly hope so. Never before has it looked so much like the end, never before so much like the marvelous beginning.
Feb. 1990 Moody Magazine Used by permission.
Joseph M. Stowell is president of Moody Bible Institute.
Original artwork for this article by Florence Anderson.