As that last, tiny grain of sand bounces across the smooth surface of the glass, rolling ever faster towards the narrow aperture below, the implications weigh heavier than all of the heaps of sand in existence. Falling, falling towards that mountainous dune of spent grains, it hangs in the air for just a moment, and with a sharp breath you take stock of it all, each grain a story, an experience, a missed opportunity; each a seed of time…
It’s a funny thing, time. We cannot see it, or touch it, but we certainly feel its effects, jostling us this way and that over the course of our lives like a great, unruly river. We are caught in its currents, helpless to do anything but ride them out. Though we all have our own notions of time, most of us should recognizing that it is as valuable as it is limited, an unimaginably precious commodity that ceaselessly slips from our futile grasp; time carries on, you see, with or without our consent.
As children, it crawls at an unforgivingly slow pace, with Christmas and birthday parties and other such celebrations seemingly coming every two or three years at best. As adults, we find such events upon us far more quickly than we often are prepared for, requiring us to buy more gifts just as we have finished paying off last year’s.
With the passing of time we seeing changes all around us, and even within us. Aging homes sag as lawns bristle with high grass and weeds, and we, as our twilight draws nearer, slump under the burden of decades, our hair ever lightening towards gray or white, our bones developing resentful voices of their own, many groaning and creaking in loud protest. We all shall grow old, just as all before just have grown old.
Interestingly, sometimes frighteningly so, it appears that as we age time speeds up, moving more quickly about us than it did when we were children. Things, in that fresh light, start to take on a certain precedence, to become priorities in a way that they perhaps had not been before. Sometimes, if we are careful, our understanding of the finite moments we have can help keep the chaos in our lives at bay, open new doors, shutting old ones, providing us a path to follow through the darkness closing in around us.
We use the word “time” quite loosely, often as just a filler word, an intangible concept that we employ as we see a need. We euphemistically refer to our experiences by measures of time, labeling them as either “good times” or a “bad times.” To that end, most of us can admit from experience that the good times always pass much faster than we would like, while the bad times seem to doggedly haunt us, casting long shadows across our lives.
From another position, we speak of time as a commodity, placing an intrinsic value upon that temporal budget we have each been allotted. We commonly use terms like “spending time,” but unlike a bank account, where our existing balance can be scrutinized closely, our allowance of time is hidden amongst the dark and murky shadows of the unknown. Even worse, it is in a constant state of decay, hours, days, years passing before we know it without anything being able to stop its steady march toward oblivion. Such is often a frightening reality to face!
As the book of James (4:14) tells us:
Whereas ye know not what [shall be] on the morrow. For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanishes away.
For each of us, time truly should be a vastly important and exceedingly beautiful possession; one well-spent on those people and causes and callings that matter.
What are you spending your time on? Are you investing it wisely, looking ahead, making progress towards something of lasting value? Are you sharing your time with others, enjoying theirs all the while? Friends, family, your spouse? Or are you sitting by idly, lost perhaps in a happy daze of momentary stupification, each precious moment blowing away from you worthlessly like the dry leaves of an autumn oak?
It goes without saying that, in life, we have certain obligations that invariably require our time; work, for instance. But in those moments where we have been freed of the bonds of commitment, what are you doing? Is your time well-spent or wasted?
The sooner we all realize that we have an ever-decaying quantity of time, the sooner we can start using it wisely. If we don’t, if we fail to use that temporal gift that has been bestowed upon us, we shall at the closing of our lives look back at where we have been, what we have done, and wonder where all that time went…
As Dr. Seuss so simply put it, “How did it get so late so soon?”
Thank you very much, and God bless!