They flew through the evening air, pirouetting and dancing and flipping and embracing their freedom. One minute visible and the next unseen, they seemed to vanish into the bushes that lined the lake so neatly. They knew that the time had come for them to wake, to stir into action once more, to stretch their wings and dive into flight. While bats flew free, nearby swans elegantly drifted towards the safety of the man made islands, stretched their own tired wings majestically, reaching tall as though saying goodbye to the setting sun, and curled up for the night.
Each creature knew what was right for that time. And for each one it was different.
To regcognise the time and how we should behave is a great skill indeed. One moment, in the seriousness of a meeting, would call for a sensible and authoritative approach, while another at the same table with friends might instead require celebration, laughter and someone willing to be the clown. Recognising the time is vital.
Recognising the time in other people is an even greater skill. If the bat were to demand the swan take flight, both would end the evening disappointed and hurt. Social media now allows us to see the happiness in others when we are sad, or to see fellowship happening when we are lonely. FOMO – fear of missing out – is now a real condition whose sufferers are never truly satisfied with where they are for fear that they could have been happier elsewhere.
And yet, wherever we find ourselves, whatever time it may be, we can know with full confidence that we are not alone. Feeling angry? Jesus flipped tables. Feeling alone? Jesus cried out on the cross. Feeling desperate? He sweated blood through stress. Feeling happy? Jesus turned water into wine. Feeling betrayed? Judas.
God, in some totally incomprehensible way, took on the limitations of humanity and visited us in Jesus. He not only experienced our lives as an all knowing deity, but also as a tangible, living human. He saw the hurt and provided comfort. He loved life and embraced all that His Father asked of him.
He felt our pain. Our guilt. Our worst.
He died. He felt the intense cruelty of crucifixion. He tasted death.
He was defeated.
And then His time came. From a place of absolute weakness (anyone can win a fight against a dead man, surely) He defeated death and defeated sin, and in doing so provided something new.
There is life after death. Dying does not end our story. But similarly, life itself can be turned around. Paths in life paved so atrociously that feet are torn to shreds can be repaired, while feet are cleaned and restored.
And hope is there for all of us.