“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” – T. S. Eliot
The day before Christmas, I already feel a deep yearning for the year to end.
As I stand near the demarcation between this year and the next, all I want to do is fall across the metaphorical finish line and collapse. Yet, at the same time, I feel my knees weaken with the realization that, if God allows me to reach that goal, I must somehow continue running the next leg of the race. How am I supposed to keep going when I feel like I have nothing left to give?
Alone and bleary-eyed beneath Christmas lights that seemed too bright, I found myself turning this and a thousand other questions over when the above quote from T.S. Eliot came to mind. Through meditation on beginnings and endings, I felt relief remembering time does not exist as a result of sin, but as a design by God.
The Bible speaks to how God wove this design into our nature, the world, and his plan of redemption: there are beginnings and endings. The Word of God opens with “in the beginning,” and ends with the promise of Jesus “coming soon” (Genesis 1:1, Revelation 22:20). This is the same Jesus who is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” ( Revelation 22:13). Every page of Scripture in between testifies to the ways God uses the passage of time to sanctify his people.
Genesis shows us intention in the Lord’s creation of days. The Psalms remind us of the mercy in their dawning, while Ecclesiastes speaks to the brokenness in their passing. That same book testifies that God “has made everything beautiful in its time,” and explains “he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
There is something mysterious about time, and I believe there is something sacred about beginnings and endings.
Do you feel it?
In the hospital rooms and funeral parlors? In the goosebumps you get as people hold one another and sing “Auld Lang Syne” to usher in a new year? In the melancholy of watching a sunset or the hope of watching a sunrise? (If not in those things, perhaps in watching Marvel’s newest release, Spider Man: No Way Home?)
Humanity is fascinated with the idea of time manipulation because, try as we might, we cannot control it. We rarely have awareness of when chapters of our lives are about to begin and end, let alone understanding of “what God has done from the beginning to the end.” But I am confident in this: our tension with time reveals our deeper yearning for redemption.
Even before the entrance of sin into the world, God had “a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:10). From the moment Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, God already predestined forgiveness and redemption through the blood of Jesus, according to the riches of his grace. The earth has groaned for the coming of this Savior before, and Christmas is a time for us to remember not only that this groaning was satisfied, but that it will be again. Our King has come. And our King is coming soon.
At the end of all things, those in Christ will find themselves at a most beautiful beginning.