Reflecting on Time

August 17, 2018

When I was a child summers seemed like they were an eternity long, but now that I’m older I perceive time moving at a much faster pace. Of course, children may find the long car trip to be an eternity, and as parents we hear the annoying, “Are we there yet?” I suspect some of our perception of time has to do with this: for an eight-year-old one year is 1/8 of his or her lifetime, and for a sixty-five-year-old, one year is 1/65 of his or her lifetime. As we accumulate years, they become a smaller percentage of the total. You hear older people talking about and event, and they’ll say, “Has it really been ten years, it seems like only yesterday.”

We must all deal with the flow of time. Yesterday is past; tomorrow is uncertain. I have what the author of Hebrews calls “Today” reflecting on Psalm 95. Matt Perman gives four helpful adjectives to time.*

Time is inelastic. We’ve all experienced it. A deadline looms, and we have too much to do. We wish we had more time than anybody else on the planet. If somehow, we could have our own personal, extra day. I’ve mused about that with sermons and Sunday coming. The Jews had a lunar calendar so periodically they had to insert intercalary months or days to match the solar year. If I could just have that intercalary day between Friday and Saturday, sermon preparation would be easier. But time doesn’t stretch. It is inelastic.

Time is perishable. You can store money in your savings account. You can store canned goods and staples in your pantry and frozen foods in your freezer to eat later. But you can’t store up time to spend later when you need it. Seven days in a week, 24 hours in a day, and 365 days in a year, but no extra time to insert as needed. We only have today.

Time is irreplaceable. Great cooks know about substituting missing ingredients. You are missing 1 teaspoon of baking powder, so you use ⅓ teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of cream of tartar. Some ingredients in life can be substituted, but not time.

Time is necessary. You can find activities that don’t require money. You may find some things to do that can be done alone and do not acquire other people. But everything we do requires time. Time is necessary.

Given our relationship with time, I want to live fully for God. I want to be wise. I ponder the following. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12, ESV). “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16, ESV). I give thanks for today.

*Matt Perman, How to Get Unstuck, pp. 165-166.


How Do You View Your Time on Earth?

December 28, 2015

Eastern religions believe in a cycle of birth, death, and reincarnation. This cycle is called samsara. In such a view, karma (which is a word which means deeds) determines the next reincarnation. Good (deeds) karma result in a better reincarnation; bad (deeds) karma result in a worse reincarnation. One does not necessarily come back as a human being in this view, but the cycle continues.

The goal of eastern religions is liberation from the cycle of samara. In some forms of Hinduism, the escape is to merge with Brahman, ultimate reality. In Buddhism, nirvana is the escape from samsara, and it is achieved when one loses all desires. Suffering and desire are the ultimate problems for Buddhism. Individuals who believe in samsara may not expect to merge with Brahman or reach nirvana from this life. In their view, it may take many lifetimes.

Materialists believe that nature is all that there is. Eventually the universe will run down, but the universe may oscillate and start again. (I would point out to the materialist that it takes a great deal of faith to believe that.) Human beings, however, end at death. We may retain the memory of someone, but this view rejects life after death. For the materialist, history is linear, but there is no overarching purpose to it. In the end, everything dies.

The Christian also views history as linear. God is the Intelligent Designer of our universe. God is also the Lord of History. God’s purpose will ultimately be fulfilled, because we live in a meaningful world filled with purpose. Human beings begin at conception, but death is not the final word. The spiritual or immaterial part of us exists beyond death. We will face the judgment of God. Our life of faith or lack of faith will determine our eternal destiny.

How we view history and human life is a spiritual matter. Our worldview will determine many of our decisions in this life. For Eastern religions, life is like playing a video where the player has an infinite number of times to reach the final level. For the materialist, there is no final level, and only one chance at life. Life is to be lived, but there are preparations for the next life.

For the Christian, God has created a beautiful and wondrous world. The brokenness that is in it is due to the sin’s entrance into the world. We go about life earning a living and raising a family just like many Hindus, Buddhists, and materialists. But we believe that this life is a place of decision for the life to come. (Romans 2:8-10) The life of faith prepares us for the presence of God for eternity. The lack of faith prepares us for the absence of God for eternity.

How do you view your time on earth?

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.” — C.S. Lewis


Time and Eternity

December 28, 2010

The eternal God who created the universe also created time. There was neither day nor passing year until God spoke the universe into existence and separated the light from the darkness. The eternal God gave the sun, moon, and stars to mark the progress of the seasons. Humankind’s first calendar was the glorious march of sun, moon and stars across the sky—each obedient to its creator. Look beyond the clock and calendar even the magnificence of the skies to the One who made it all and give Him praise.

The eternal God should be “our dwelling place.” As we see how fleeting time is—how fleeting our time is, we ponder Him for whom a thousand years is like a day or a few hours of the night (Psalm 90). But for us even a long life is soon past. Yet in those fleeting moments we may live for God and decide eternity for ourselves. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, ESV).

Having had the opportunity to hear good news, we must not let the moment fly from us without a response. Our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2, ESV).

And once begun, the faith must be lived. We dare not drift away from so great a salvation. We do not know when the last grain of sand will fall in the hour glass of our life.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end (Hebrews 3:13-14, ESV).

Though our life is but a mist—a fleeting moment (James 3:14), God can give meaning to our lives, and living for God can give us hope beyond the transitory and the temporary. Praise God for time and eternity!


While Today

February 5, 2009

The rhythm of life in the United States is fast paced. We hurtle down the Interstate at 70 M.P.H., and we often approach the rest of life with the same breakneck speed. The noise of modern life often drowns out reflection. Television, radio, the Internet, cell phones, iPods, and a host of other electronic gadgets can keep us amused. But is there something more to life than amusement? Is the bumper sticker philosophy, “He who dies with the most toys wins”, correct?

A biblical world view would answer with a resounding NO. Material things as wonderful as they are can never satisfy the human soul for long. Remove God from the picture, and life is like a maze with no opening on the other side, no destination, and no point. Without God, human achievements are fleeting. As Ecclesiastes observed, “I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded: Everything he has accomplished is futile –like chasing the wind” (Ecclesiastes 1:14, NET)!

God exists. God has created our universe. God has revealed Himself through the Bible. The illusive meaning of life is to be found in God. We were created for relationship with God.

  • The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV
  • But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33 ESV

A couple of observations follow. If the meaning of life is to be in a relationship with God, I need to make certain that it is my true priority. A Barna poll listed being healthy as people’s number one goal. Relationship with God only came in as number six. We have to check our priorities.

If the meaning of life is to be in a relationship with God, then this life is but the testing ground for the next. This life is for making the decision for God. I have this moment in time, and I’m not guaranteed the next. I need to be responsive to God “while it is still called today.”

P.S. The photo in the header is sunrise taken from Jabel Musa, the traditional site identified with Mt. Sinai – not a bad place to ponder “Today.” The blog will be my place to reflect on faith, culture, and daily life.