“Past, Present, Future – In All Things”

Colossians 1:15-20

{Prayer}

             In the opening scene of the movie “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle”, Spencer writes a paper for his so called friend Fridge. As Spencer gives the paper to Fridge, this is the really brief interaction they have in the movie. {Show clip}

            Each paper, each book, each story has those three things; a beginning, an end, and some stuff in the middle. At the National Youth Gathering down in Houston, the story God being in all things was brought out in our different Bible Studies, the breakout sessions we attended, and in the Mass Events each night. Listen to the theme verses of the Gathering from Colossians 1.

            15 {Jesus} is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

            The beginning.  “In the beginning God created” (Genesis 1:1). Those are the opening words of God’s story revealed to us in the Scriptures. Before those words, before we are told about the Spirit of God hovering over the chaotic waters of the deep, before God spoke light into existence, there was only God. Through God’s speaking, light came into existence and the ordering of creation began.

            In the speaking of that Word was Jesus. John begins his gospel saying, “In the beginning was the Word, was Jesus, and the Word, Jesus, was with God, and the Word, Jesus, was God. He was with God in the beginning” (1:1). Paul in the theme verses says that “by {Jesus} all things were created … whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16).

            Jesus is there at the beginning and he is there at the end. In Revelation 22 Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and End” (22:13). Jesus was there when everything within this creation started and He will be there when this creation is restored to perfection. And the fact that Jesus will be there at the end should give us this sense of comfort and peace because we know how the story of our lives will end. And it’s going to be a great ending for not only will the angels of heaven welcome you, not only will the saints who have gone before you welcome you, but Jesus, Jesus who is preeminent, Jesus who is above all things will be there to welcome you with open arms. As you approach Him, those arms will be extended out to receive you, those hands of His will reach out and Jesus will wipe away every tear from your eye.

            Jesus was there in the beginning when everything was very good, when everything was perfect. Jesus will be there in end when everything within all of creation will again be very good, when everything will again be perfect. Those are two great bookends to an awesome story, to your story! … But what about that stuff in the middle?

             That stuff in the middle … it’s all over the place isn’t it? Between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20, between man being deceived by Satan and falling into the sin, between the curses which this disobedience to God brought upon all of creation and the final judgment of the dead … the stuff in the middle of God’s story found within the pages of the Bible is all over the place.

            And the same is true with your life, with my life. Sure, just like within the pages of Scripture we have our high moments, our mountain top experiences, those moments where you praise and high-five God for all the great and marvelous things going on in your life.  But how often do those mountain top experiences then lead to finding ourselves in a valley of deep darkness? The finding out that your pregnant, only to have a miscarriage or a still birth. The feeling like everything is going right for you, only to get smacked with a huge financial burden or only to have to deal with a doctor’s diagnosis that you or your loved one have cancer. The watching of teenagers blossoming in academics, sports, and clubs, only to be killed in a car accident. The middle part of the story has some great moments, but it also has the moments which just flat out stink.

            Notice again what Paul says though in our passage from Colossians 1, “{Jesus} is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Before any of the highs or the lows, the tragedies which occur in the middle of our story, there was Jesus. Jesus, physically entering into this world didn’t bring the darkness and the chaos with him. No, Jesus, being before all things, being when all things were perfect, Jesus brings that perfection into the story, into the story of all things, into your story. With Jesus in the middle of your story, He is the one thing which holds them all together. “In him all things hold together.”

            And He is able to hold them all together because He has reconciled, He has made right all things, things in heaven and things on earth. Jesus has made all things right, He has restored all things by making peace by the blood of his cross. Through Jesus’ precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death, Jesus has bought you back to be with Him. As we learned this past week at Vacation Bible School, you, your life, the life of all from the life in the womb to the one who the absolute oldest person in the world … you are precious, you dearly loved by God and you have got a story to tell.

            You have a story to tell because the story of your life, it fits in perfectly with the story of all things. Your story fits in perfectly within God’s story. Your story fits in between the beginning of the life of the church found in the book of Acts and the end of Revelation before Jesus returns in glory.

            And even though your story may have its lows, its tragedies … one of the things which stuck with me from the Gathering is this … those lows, those heartbreaking, life-alternating tragedies … they are just middle words. And one things about middle words is this … they are not final words. The middle words of bankruptcy, cancer, tumors, disability, handicap, depression, abuse … they are not forever. They are not forever because through Christ bringing everything back to Himself by the blood of His cross and through His resurrection, He has an amazing end to the story for those who believe in Him.

             The love of God is found in the beginning of the story of all things. The love of God is found in the end of the story of all things. In the middle, there is a lot of stuff … but there is no stuff which is too big for God to handle.

            I want to close with some words said by the pastor who helped emcee the Mass Events each night. The night in which he talked about middle words, he said this.

            Sin is a middle word … grace is a final word.

            Anxiety is a middle word … peace is a final word.

            Loneliness is a middle word … belonging is a final word.

            Death is a middle word … life is a final word.

            Satan is a middle word … Jesus is the Final Word. Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in the One who holds all things together, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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