Signs of the Times

An Optimistic Look into the Future

shutterstock_43427020Signs are designed to catch our attention. They alert us to danger or promote some product. Some signs, however, defy understanding. The following are signs found in real life:

  • On a bag of Fritos: “You could be a winner! No purchase necessary. Details inside.”
  • On packaging for a Rowenta Iron: “Do not iron clothes on body.”
  • On a Korean kitchen knife: “Warning. Keep out of children.”
  • On an American Airlines packet of nuts: “Instructions: Open packet, eat nuts.”
  • On a Swedish chain saw: “Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.”

Wait there’s more! Thanks to Bob Gallagher for reminding me of this post.

Just before the exit to the Louisville Expo Center a large billboard announces, “Tattoos while you wait.” Excuse me, but isn’t waiting a pretty solid requirement for getting a tattoo?

A jewelry store in Denver promises to pierce ears “half off” on Thursdays. No thanks!

As a child I once saw a man wearing a sandwich board. On his front sign, in large letters, were the words, “THE END IS NEAR!”

“What end?” I asked. “How near?” I even peeked in back to see if it said, “The End”

The answer I received from the man was chilling. No time for tattoos or to get ears pierced half off. I was told that the cataclysmic demise of the earth was just around the corner. That was 60 years ago. In time, the power of the message faded into obscurity. For awhile I went back to living under the false assumption that there is no end.

No one knows exactly when the end will come, but the truth is printed on the rear view mirrors of every new car: “Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear.” The Bible is clear that the end will come, it’s nearer than we think and it would be wise to be prepared.

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’d never forget. He was gloating over his victory, 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.

“A business man with hotels and houses and a huge bank account feels a twinge in his chest as he finishes his morning jog—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 200 years ago. Or take a quiet walk through a cemetery. There you will find 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 drive. It all goes back in the box. You never see a hearse pulling a U-haul.

Now that I’m 70 years closer to “the end,” the message seems less chilling. It’s almost comforting. My faith in Christ assures me that the end of life here is the beginning of a better life… forever.

Memories of “sandwich board man” serve as a reminder to concentrate on the things that are most important: I’m more eager to make a difference in the lives of the people I meet. I’m more eager to spend time nurturing my relationship with Christ and leaving a legacy of faith for my family.

Almost 2000 years ago one of the apostles said,

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:7-8).

Now that’s a good sign.

Have you ever been reminded brevity of life and the importance of his moment? 

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6 thoughts on “Signs of the Times

  1. I’m reminded every day when I remember that I used to know how to do the project scheduled for completion, That is the worst part of dementia, not remembering how to do something yet remembering that I used to know how to do it. Thanks to my doctors and their sense of humor I do know what the cause of death will be on the last sign of my earthly life. I have been told that for cause of death on my death certificate will be, ” We have figured out what kept him alive this long, what makes you think we can figure out what killed him. ” I also can’t wait to see the sign on the gates of heaven, you know the one that says, “Well done good and faithful servant.” Then there is the sign just inside the heavenly gate, the one that says. “Welcome home Son.”

  2. Once again you use laughter to teach, great! I believe I was also given a twisted mind. I’m praying for you. Thanks for loving Jesus and putting that love into your message. I take care of my mom and we love hearing you speak. O and thanks for giving me a new love for my last name.
    Sarah Davis

  3. Hi Ken and Diane, yes, I have been close to death several times and each time God has brought me back, it guess like the saying goes, He isn’t finished with me yet. I also just lost a very sweet wonderful Christian woman friend and each time we loose lived ones we realize just how near the “end” for all of us is! So with that being said , I just want to tell all of you that I lI’ve all of you as one of God’s greatest commandments was to love above all! God Bless all of you!

  4. This is so perfect! My family members are caught up in collecting all the items they want: cars, clothes, vacations, etc. However, are they truly happy people. I don’t think so! They are successful in that regard, but at the cost of relationships, etc I only wish my life allowed me to go visit these relatives and talk with them. They do not share my belief system at all. However, they know I trust in Jesus!