“Time is a jet plane, it moves too fast . . .” ~Bob Dylan~
Time does move fast. Seasons come, seasons go. Days zoom past in an endless rush of chasing after deadlines and commitments. The philosopher and sometime delinquent Ferris Bueller put it well when he said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile, you could miss it.”
Far too often we fritter time away without regard to its value, all the while complaining that there aren’t enough hours in the day or days in the week. We whine about running out of time, but God grants us 1,440 minutes each day. We all have the same number of minutes as everyone else; no more, no less. Modern life has become a high-speed chaos of sporadic efficiency. Technology, for all its promises to simplify our lives, has in fact created new paradigms of complications. We have the ability to instantly communicate across vast distances, yet individuals are more disconnected than ever. Nowadays superficiality is the norm. Our community may be global, but our interchanges lack depth or purpose. Being wired to the information pipeline has not automatically set us free to strengthen or pursue vital relationships. More often than not, all our electronic marvels serve to enslave us by diminishing our humanity.
Paul of Tarsus had some advice for his friends at Ephesus that is germane to us: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” Time is life; how we spend our minutes and hours is how we spend our lives.
Making tight connections with others is what gives our lives value. We were designed to be interactive creatures involved with each other. That gets lost in the contemporary race to achieve success and pleasure. More and more, society pressures us to cast off all restraints to indulge in bouts of self-gratification. Our wants must always be satisfied. What we like or dislike takes precedent over all other concerns. That me-centric mindset disposes of time by burning it up regardless of the consequences.
Time, however, is a non-renewal resource. We can either succumb to our culture, which is running around like a chicken with its head cut off or we can gain balance and control. God created us to operate in a twenty-four hour world with seven-day weeks and he pronounced creation good. In fact, “God saw all that he had made and it was very good.” We were designed to function and glorify God in the timeframe he set in place.
Our Days Are Numbered
Consider the truth of an ancient prayer presented in contemporary language: “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—and how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Despite typical human arrogance that proclaims otherwise, our days are numbered; each one freely given to us by God. All the days fashioned for us were written in God’s book before we were even formed; the days ordained for us are in God’s hand. As we allow that realization to sink in, we quickly ascertain that there is no such thing as an ordinary day. Each one is layered with an extraordinary significance because God has a purpose for our lives and our days.
Time is not some abstract concept shrouded in philosophical illusions. Its importance cannot be overstated; its substance can be measured. How we wile away our hours and days is how we pay out our lives. Our piece of time on this planet is in God’s hands. We need to keep our perspective by applying eternal precepts to our lives. Our peace in this physical universe is sustained by our personal investment in spiritual growth. The world’s ideals will never provide happiness or significance or connection. It is only when we diligently follow Scriptural principles that life takes on purpose and direction.
Faith meets reality when we step outside of ourselves to serve others; faith meets reality when the joy of life flows through our words and deeds; faith meets reality as we seek to build relationships. It is in these efforts that time has meaning and life is relevant.
Life Is Short, Eternity Long
In what is usually perceived to be a bleak or depressing fact, life is short and fleeting. We do not like to dwell on it or even remember it, but we all have a rendezvous with death looming on some uncharted horizon. No one is promised tomorrow; the graveyards are full of people who had places to go and things to do.
Death is the great enemy, but it’s not the end. We are spiritual beings confined to a physical existence for a finite period, but our ultimate goal is to spend eternity with God. Christ conquered death when he emerged from that garden tomb, which is why he came to earth: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” The cross of Calvary makes all the difference; Christ’s death and resurrection shredded the barrier between man and God. Our earthbound decisions determine whether we reject or embrace that reality.
Since time is life, nothing more and nothing less, and since life is a precious gift from God, we must strive to make the best use of our time. We need to practice being still; we don’t have to withdraw into a monastery, but we do need to have quiet time with God. We would do well to invest more time contemplating our mortality and less time in pursuit of entertaining diversions; more time in silent reflection and less time chasing the wind.
We cannot slow down the jet plane of time, but we can get in rhythm with the God-ordained cycle of work and rest. Each day we can take a deep breath of grace as we attempt to make the most of every opportunity. In our fast-paced world, occasional meditative strolls through a cemetery can provide perspective on the fact that time as we know it is actually on a headlong rush to eternity.