Expiration dates are funny things. How is it that the bread I buy today can be good 2 weeks from now? Or that cereal can last 2 years? And how about canned goods? How long can they really be good for me? I know that most of the time the dates are real, but sometimes they are just there to protect the manufacturer. During college, I stayed one semester with an old lady who was a friend of the family. We had a sweet time together, but this dear soul had not thrown anything away in decades, including her food. I remember a night when she pulled out a can of barbecued pork (which, by the way, I didn't even know came in a can), and she prepared a meal. It had a definite smell. I reached into the trash and picked up the can....yep, expired 7 years prior. Not being one to hurt feelings, I determined to eat the lethal substance and suffer the consequences. Her younger sister was with us that night with her persnickety little terrier. The dog wouldn't go near the pork - smart dog. I will never forget that distinct flavor....the flavor of aluminum. All flavor of BBQ had left years ago. I ate pure tin, it would seem, and I managed to do it with a straight face; although, much prayer went up during that meal. And, no, I didn't die. I didn't even get sick, believe it or not. I guess that's what happens when mushy aluminum meets a stomach of steel.
Speaking of expiration dates, I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the world did not end a couple of weeks ago as we had heard that it might in the news. My son was fascinated with the elderly gentleman who had predicted the end. We talked about him frequently leading up to the date of our supposed demise. Matthew was concerned that the man would take his life if his predictions weren't true. He wanted to put people on alert on the old guy's behalf. The man truly believed - and has since changed the prediction to be some time in October - but didn't Jesus say that, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36) Why, then, are people so persistent with their thoughts on the matter? Clearly, we do not have that important piece of information.
If we don't know the expiration date, what are we to do? The truth is that I don't know when the apples in my fruit bowl will expire. Some may go bad in 3 days, and some may be good for 2 weeks. It's hard to say. There are so many factors involved. I wouldn't dare speculate; I will just be vigilant on the fruit bowl.
It's easy to get preoccupied with extraneous details. It's easy to get bogged down in the how's, where's, why's of our Bible speculation when all that really matters is the Who. If we began to live our lives in a way that magnifies Who God is, we would be so much more effective as believers and warriors in the Kingdom of God. Our hearts should be so filled with the person of Jesus that we are salt and light in every moment to the people around us. I can't be so concerned with when the Lord will return as I am with how He will find me when He gets here. In fact, I should be filled to overflowing right this minute so that the moment I come across someone in need, I will have what that person needs to find Christ. 2 Timothy 4:2 tells us to "preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season." Because we don't know the season of His return, we should walk around ready, grabbing the hands of everyone we see so that they, too, can be ready when He gets here.
I'm sure that my fridge needs purging...that there are one or two things in there that could be tossed... Expiration dates are handy, but they only really come in food. Let's be ready for anything, friends, because I'm not quite ready to expire!