January 2007 - Volume 11, Issue 6
The Universal Commodity
We use it, we spend it, we waste it, and we even kill it: Time. Indeed, time itself has merited a special day to celebrate its importance. Much of the world's population stays up late - midnight to be exact - on the last day of December for the purpose of rejoicing over the passing of an old year and the beginning of a new one. Why all the commotion over this man-made measure of marching months? Why the feeling of euphoria at that nanosecond marking the birth of a new year?
The circumstances of one's birth notwithstanding, every person is engaged daily in the exercise of this thing called a lifetime. If one is inclined, a portion of this existence may be spent in viewing one's fellow creatures in the act of living. Coming from one place and going to another, the human parade is on review. As a form of amusement, one might speculate on the story behind the manner or mood exhibited by those passing by. The processes of work and leisure, happiness and sadness, giving and taking, buying and selling, intense concern and aimless reverie are on display and producing their effects. The life of a community is happening and it's all moves in time.
What is it all about? Like a spinning wheel on the automobiles that convey people to their destinations, the rotation of days also carry people to their ends. Continuing the simile, like the cars we drive, we depreciate a little every day. This may be true from the perspective of our mortality, but the slow depletion of the time of our lives ought not to apply to the worth of our lives. The experience and wisdom gained by living teach us that the joys and the accomplishments of life do not leave us ultimately satisfied. This sentiment is expressed by the lyric of a not-too-old popular song: Life goes on, long after the thrill of living is gone. What a disappointment to discover that the goals and dreams of a lifetime once achieved often lack the depth of meaning and lasting contentment one expected.
'Tis a sight to engage me if anything can,
To muse on the perishing pleasures of man;
Short lived as we are, our enjoyments I see,
Have a shorter date; and die sooner than we.
– William Cowper
This revelation, left on its own, may reflect life for the shallow thinker, or even more so for the shallow believer. If one is thoughtful, the purpose of life is a process of discernment, an affirmation of a vibrant and irrepressible spiritual growth. Time is an opportunity, an avenue to developing an awareness of the true height and width and depth of this miracle of life. Life on earth is the early stage of eternity. Among all of the useful skills learned in this brief earthly existence, the knowledge of the lasting things of faith, hope, and love are supreme. Expect to be tested many times on your facility in the understanding and application of these three jewels of our being. Do not become discouraged by missteps, failings, and uncertainties. Mastery of these gifts of God will take more than a lifetime.
Navigating the sometimes calm and sometimes tempestuous waters of the river of time demands that the captain acquire a keen instinct and a sharp eye. The course is fraught with dangers. Temptations, both subtle and obvious, can deter one from the correct course. Be open to the lessons that abide in all the occurrences along the way. Whether pleasant or harsh, they provide the wisdom needed to focus on the chart and on the ultimate port.
Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.
– Malcolm Muggeridge
Through faith, the river of time widens and deepens until it flows into an eternal sea. Without such faith, the river of time becomes a steadily narrowing stream until, finally, it is but a few drops of water dropping into a meaningless void.
Making time's journey with God as our guide and mentor opens our thoughts, words, and deeds to the influence of faith. Imagine that we do all things with the desire to serve God. In so willing, you will find that your new year, your new day, your new moment will be time well spent.
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