Wednesday, 15 December 2021
Title: Eternity and beyond
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (NIV)
The people of Sydney in Australia were intrigued. Most mornings, inevitably they would find written, in beautiful script with yellow chalk on the pavement of streets in different parts of the city, one word – Eternity. This went on for years and no one seemed to know who had been doing this, or why. Then, in 1956, someone saw him taking out a piece of chalk and actually writing on the pavement. By then he had already been doing it for some 24 years!
Arthur Stace was a small quiet man with a crooked nose who grew up in deep poverty. Even as a child, he had to scavenge bins for food and resorted to stealing bread and milk in order to survive. He became an alcoholic and at 15 was sent to jail. Later, Arthur became a Christian, and in 1932 after hearing a sermon on Isaiah 57:15, became so inspired that he felt compelled to share it with everyone. The preacher’s words, “Eternity, Eternity, I wish that I could sound or shout that word to everyone in the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it, where will you spend Eternity?”
In an interview, Arthur said, “Eternity went ringing through my brain and suddenly I began crying and felt a powerful call from the Lord to write Eternity.” Even though he was illiterate and could hardly write his own name legibly, “the word ‘ Eternity’ came out smoothly, and in a beautiful printer’s script. I couldn’t understand it, and I still can’t.”
For Arthur, it was a calling from God and he was single-mindedly obedient to remind people to think about what lies ahead. It was estimated that he wrote the word around half a million times over 35 years. Imagine a book of half a million words that only consists of one word!
Well, Christmas is just ten days away. Jesus’ birth was foretold in Isaiah 9:6 “For unto us a child is born…” Jesus came to earth in the form of a human child, yet He would lead a sinless life and later die to save us from our sins; the only way to satisfy a holy God and bring us back into a relationship with Him. Isaiah 53:5 says “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him.”
As we celebrate Christmas, let us remember that this story does not begin in the manger and end at the cross. This story of mankind’s redemption will end with us living with God in eternity. God is eternal – He has been and always will be – Revelations 4:8 “Holy, holy, holy is he Lord God Almighty, who was, and is and is to come.” Eternity is beyond time or outside of where time matters. It is when time ceases for us and timelessness begins.
God has taken great pains and gone to great lengths to reach out to us, to show us His love and His desire that we will return to Him and spend eternity with Him.
Jesus holds the key to our eternal life. John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
I pray that if you have not accepted Christ, come to Him, so that you can spend eternity with Him. It is a decision that you cannot put on a back burner. May the one word that Arthur Stace had scripted on the pavements of Sydney, urge you to think ahead. Look beyond the manger, look past the cross and look forward to spending eternity with our Abba Father.
PRAYER: Dear Father, I thank you for your mercy and grace. I thank you for the gift of eternal life through Jesus, Your Son, for without His coming there will be no redemption for us. I pray that You will open our spiritual eyes to accept your gift, and help us to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, In His name, Amen.
【约翰福音3:16】 神爱世人，甚至将他的独生子赐给他们，叫一切信他的，不至灭亡，反得永生。 （和合本）
澳大利亚悉尼人的好奇心被激起了。大多数早晨，他们都必会发现在城市各处的行人道上，用黄色粉笔以漂亮的字体写着一个单词 – 永恒 。这种情况持续了多年，没有人知道是谁在这么做，也不知道为什么。后来，在1956年，有人看到他拿出一支粉笔，在人行道上写字。到那时，他已经做了大约24年了！
亚瑟·史泰斯（Arthur Stace）是个身材矮小、沉默寡言的人，他长着一个鹰钩鼻子。他在极度贫困的环境中长大；在他还是个孩子的时候，他就不得不从垃圾桶里捡食物。为了生存，他甚至还得偷面包和牛奶。他成了酒徒，15岁时被送进监狱。后来，亚瑟成了基督徒。1932年，在听了一篇关于以赛亚书57:15的讲道后，他深受启迪，以至于他觉得有必要与每个人分享。牧师的话： “永恒，永恒，我希望我能向悉尼街头的每一个人高声呼喊这个词。你必须面对，你将在哪里度过永恒？”
在一次采访中，亚瑟说：“永恒在我的脑海中响起，突然，我开始哭泣，感觉从主而来的强烈呼召，要我写出 永恒 。” 尽管他是文盲，几乎不能清楚地写出自己的名字，“‘ 永恒 ’这个词还是顺利地写出来了，而且是以优美的铜版书写法写出来的。我不明白，现在也仍不明白。”
离圣诞节只有十天了。以赛亚书9:6预言了耶稣的降生， “因有一婴孩为我们而生…” 。耶稣以人类婴孩的形象来到人间，然而祂过着无罪的生活，后来为了把我们从罪中拯救出来而死；这是满足圣洁的上帝并与我们重新建立关系的唯一途径。以赛亚书53:5写道： “哪知他为我们的过犯受害，为我们的罪孽压伤。因他受的刑罚，我们得平安。”
在我们庆祝圣诞节的时候，让我们记住，这个故事不是从马槽开始，在十字架结束的。这个关于人类救赎的故事将以我们与上帝永远在一起而告终。上帝是永恒的 – 祂过去并将来永远存在 – 启示录4:8 “圣哉，圣哉，圣哉，主神是昔在、今在、以后永在的全能者。” 永恒是超越时间的，或说是在受时间影响的范畴之外的。当我们的时间终止，就是永恒的开始了。