Signs of the Times


Signs 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!

    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?”

    The answer I received 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 60 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 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.


    1. Seems that my sign is urging me to simplify. Reading this after reading Matthew 6:26 this morning…”look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns…” No, life should be less about collecting and more about connecting. Ooooh…that’s a good one. I should make a t-shirt.

    2. I love the line, “it all goes back in the box.” So true…and so easy to forget. I love where you are focused – on leaving a legacy of faith….

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