When I was scanning the year-end headlines on the web last week, one particular title grabbed my attention. It read in large type, "2019 in photos." As I flipped through the assortment of eye-popping images, one particular scene grabbed my attention. It was a huge stone structure with baroque spires engulfed by jagged, orange flames—Paris’ famous Notre Dame Cathedral burning. Many remember that headline from last April vividly, mostly because of the shocking news, but also because of the dramatic photos of the wreckage. But even though the building restoration started almost immediately after the disaster, the long-term consequences are still quite severe. I read an article a few months ago that said that the fire had destroyed many of the lead roof tiles on the cathedral, sending a cloud of vaporized lead spreading into the surrounding city (France). I'm sure the initial shock of this monument burning hit the Parisians hard, but they weren't anticipating a problem like lead poisoning. Even though the initial fiery disaster was over, the dangerous after-effects were still very real.
The Bible also speaks of the long-term effects of choices in our lives, especially how our example touches the lives of the next generation. Speaking of God’s law, Deuteronomy 6:6-9 says, "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." This text shows how teaching and modeling God's word gives the children a foundation of faithfulness in God but later texts also present the terrible results of bad choices and example. These sins are a generational problem that affects the great and great-great-grandchildren of the disgruntled Israelites who had sinned earlier. God isn't in the business of arbitrarily punishing their descendants. But it's a law of nature that a person's choices create either a good or bad heritage for future generations. But the same is true about current good decisions. The key is where are you going to go from here? Paul tackles this question with the Ephesian believers in mind when he says, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." (Epesians 5:15-17) This text points out that the wise choices we make in the moment will add up to a stronger tomorrow. We just need to make the most of now with Jesus’ help. That's what Paul means when he says we must redeem the time. Let's pray that God will bless our present choices with wisdom and strength!
Presse, Agence France. “Notre Dame’s neighbours warned of lead contamination risk after fire.” The Guardian. 27 April 2019. Accessed December 29, 2019. Online.