The Tenses of Life: A Reflection for the New Year

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I was struck by the profound implication of the linking verbs “is” and “was”. Barely a month ago, my adviser in Graduate School died suddenly of cardiac arrest. He was highly respected in the academic community. He lived an exemplary life. My College prepared a necrological service and I was tasked to give an eulogy.

While composing my speech, I realized that I was always making a mistake with regards to tenses. I was writing is, when it should be was. He seemed so alive in my mind and to use the past tense is to accept that he has left the present. I then realized that the use of  “is” and “was” entails an unimaginable difference, a great unfathomable divide. And in the speech that I was writing, it meant life and death.

Using the correct tenses shows we have a good grasp of grammar. And naturally so, for a big chunk of our academic study has been devoted to it. But while we know the right verb to use when an action is past, present or future, we hardly see their implication in the School of Life. We regard the past as a natural passing away of time. We hardly treasure the present, allowing it to slowly slips away. We look at the future with uncertainty and so most people would just say “Que sera sera”.

As 2015 unfolds, firecrackers will light the sky; tables will be set with good food; resolutions will be written for the nth time, and we will greet each other with “Happy New Year!”  But haven’t we noticed that we look at the passing and coming of years as a natural part of life? Few people reflect on the implications of the past, present and future in their lives, as if they are in deep stupor, lulled by their ignorance of the impending judgment of God.

But Christians are most blessed. They look up to Christ as their Savior and Lord. They committed their lives in serving and following His footsteps. Their past, present, and future are secured for He is “ the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Revelations 22:13). For Christians, the Great Divide between the past and the present and the uncertainly of the future are melted away by what Christ did on the Cross. “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die…” John 11:25-26”

May we seize the coming years to come to Christ and be saved from the grave implication of the tenses of life.

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