Skip to site content

Interpreting the Times

In our digital, high-tech, fast-paced lifestyles, we are bombarded by calls to focus our attention on ourselves, what we can have and what we deserve. If we’re not careful, we can spend our time and energies “watching clouds” and “feeling the wind” while being unaware of God’s work around us.

<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
Many of us will be going through closets and wardrobes, exchanging our shorts and shirts for winter wear. We do this because the calendar and the changing weather tell us that summer is passing and autumn is arriving.
 
Jesus used the changing weather to illustrate our continuing need for spiritual discernment. In Matthew and Luke, Jesus criticizes a people adept at forecasting weather changes while at the same time being oblivious to the changes God was bringing about.
 
In his words to the disciples and the larger crowd gathered around him, Jesus reminds us that being aware of God’s presence and work ought to be as natural for a believer as for anyone spotting bad weather or telling the temperature (Lk 12:54-56).

“How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” –Luke 12:56
 
How can we know and be aware of God’s work? The passage in Luke offers us some suggestions:

First, we must “expose ourselves” to the activity of God. A coming rain cloud or a southerly wind tell us a weather change is about to occur. We usually have to look up at the sky to see a cloud, and we must feel the wind to gauge its temperature. Clouds must be seen, and wind must be felt. That means we are outdoors, exposed to the elements. Do we “expose” ourselves to God’s work enough so that we are able to “see” and “feel” God’s presence, or does God’s coming take us by surprise?

Second, we ought to recognize what God’s nearness brings. Just as a storm cloud causes us to predict rain, or a hot wind to anticipate a heat wave, God’s presence ought to cause us to expect that something is about to occur. But can we personally say what happens by being in God’s presence? The more time we spend with God, the easier it is to recognize and share who God is.

Finally, we must have our priorities right. The late songwriter Jim Croce wrote:

“There never seems to be enough time
To do the things you want to do
Once you find them”
–”Time in a Bottle”
 
The crowd surrounding Jesus took pride in predicting and forecasting the weather, but those skills of awareness and discernment were missing when it came to understanding God’s work and Jesus’ ministry.
 
In our digital, high-tech, fast-paced lifestyles, we are bombarded by calls to focus our attention on ourselves, what we can have and what we deserve. If we’re not careful, we can spend our time and energies “watching clouds” and “feeling the wind” while being unaware of God’s work around us.
 
Jesus’ hearers were sophisticated in forecasting climactic changes, but were largely unaware of the spiritual truths of which he spoke. How ironic that they could be so near to the Savior, yet so far from him. Let us not make the same mistakes in judgment today. Let’s “interpret the times” and join in God’s work around us.

Lynn Traylor is pastor of <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Westport Baptist Church in Westport, Ky.