We never seem to be satisfied with time.
We have too little time or too much time on our hands. It is racing or moving at a snail’s pace. It eludes us as well as our hope to control its speed, quantity, or quality.
God set time in place at Creation to give us a sense of order and rhythm with day and night, sun, moon, and stars. Seasons help us measure it out as well and give us a sense of where we are in a year of days (especially if we live in an area where we experience all four seasons).
A new baby seems to have no sense of time except to know hunger drives each part of his or her day and night. No sense of time? Well, think about how often a baby can be convinced that nighttime is when he or she is to be awake and ready to play instead of the daylight hours we prefer.
Milestones start to measure time − rolling over, first word, and first step − that moves on to first day of school and we are rolling along before we realize it. We are ever looking ahead to the next thing we want to be old enough or big enough to do, never noticing sometimes the precious limited gift that time is.
When each of us discovers that truth about time, we discover it varies by what course our life takes through time. If we need to be away from or say goodbye to someone we love, we become acutely aware of how precious and limited time is.
The trouble with time is that we never know how much we will be allotted to spend.
We become very conscious of time as parents. We want to get beyond diapers, teething, colic, and more. We want to see what all they can be and do and then look forward to when they don’t need us to drive them everywhere. With that first child we can’t grasp how quickly time will pass. Too soon they will no longer be a part of our daily life. Our home will no longer be their home base. We will plan all the celebrations as they head off to college, the military, or their own place and rejoice for them and with them while our hearts ache to see them go.
Aging puts time in sharp relief. We finally see how quickly it has been passing. We are referred to as “elderly” when we often feel like the same person we were (not many years) ago despite the silver in our hair or the change of our pace. We long for it to slow down then. We want to see the places we were too busy to see when we were younger. We want to have the energy we expended trying to hurry up time. We come to value what we took for granted and the belief we would do something ‘later’ and recognize ‘later’ never came and now may be too late.
I have had sharp reminders about the trouble with time this week as I share in two very different seasons with people who are dear to me.
We prepare to attend our oldest grandson’s college graduation and look ahead to the time he will be in medical school many more miles away than college was. He is in another launching season and we could not be more excited for him. (We felt that way when our oldest granddaughter graduated from college two years ago and began her career as a nurse.) But we are wistful as well when we recognize launching into this new season means we will see him less often.
How is it that our children are now launching their children?
This week I also spent some precious time with my 93-year-old friend who is in her last weeks in this life. I savored the moments as I held her hand whether we were talking or just enjoying looking at each other. We talked about the truly important things − love for each other, thankfulness for our friendship, heaven, spiritual things − and she told me she was “letting go” and as I heard her words I knew it was true. We wasted no words or time in those moments.
We have all manner of devices that tell or remind us of what time it is, but they cannot tell us where we are on God’s clock. Scripture admonishes us to be aware of times and seasons. Matthew speaks of the times and seasons we are to attend to in Matthew 24.
32 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Matthew 24: 32-35 (ESV)
How well are we observing the times and seasons God has set for the return of Jesus?
Does it occur to us?
Do we see them clearly as we observe what is happening around us and in the world as a whole?
Jesus reminds us as He continues in Matthew 24:44:
44 “Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Matthew 24:44 (ESV)
We do not know the hour and yet we are called to observe, pay attention, and be ready.
Perhaps the trouble with time and how little we comprehend is this:
“Time is so invisible, you never see it passing.”