Unharnessable, uncontrollable, irreversible, unalterable, and non-negotiable is the enigma known as time. Time is a mystery that is inextricably bound up with mankind. All our experiences are determined and marked by time: past, present and future time. We know that the past exists because of fleeting events; events that are no more. Without passing events, the past does not exist. The present is marked by current events. If there were no current events, there would be no present.1 The future is a projection or anticipation of what has yet to be. Our past experiences become our memories. Although we live in the present we, at the same time, look back in the past and hope for the future. All this is a futile attempt to describe time.
Everybody operates under the auspices of time. We are all inseparably wrapped up in and with time. We perceive every activity and make every decision from the vantage point of time. Furthermore, our consciousness of time is an ever-present reminder of our own mortality. We race against time, as it were, because sooner or later, time “runs out” on us. There are no rehearsals; no encores.
To each one of us has been given a sliver of time to enter and exit this earth in a process called life, which the Apostle James describes as “a vapor” that appears for a while and then disappears. Our life, this vapor, is measured by time. It is as a flower that blossoms with the morning dew and withers with the scorching sun in the afternoon. The vapor, our life, is action-packed from birth to death. It is characterized by expectations, celebrations, sorrows, ambitions, goals, aspirations, anticipations, mourning and rejoicing. Sometimes excruciating suffering besets us. Other times joyful achievements come our way. Sometimes our hearts break because of heart-rending loss. Other times our hearts sing ecstatically because of unexpected blessings. We laugh in good times and cry and sigh in bad ones. Sometimes alone. Other times with loved ones. Still time goes on. It is never distracted or hindered or delayed by anybody or anything. Its pace cannot be altered or modified or slowed down. Time just goes on, indifferently, unfeelingly.
Our life is a transient experience foisted on us when we are injected somewhere in the current of time as it flows on. We gain myriad experiences for an uncertain period of time. The precariousness and brevity of our existence can be an unnerving experience because it underscores the fact that the probability of our bodily death is 100%. Nevertheless, this harsh truth is also mitigated by the reality of the corporeal resurrection of Jesus Christ, which gives eternal life with God 100% probability as truth.2 As such, faith in Jesus becomes the only worthwhile choice we can make if we must enter into eternal life, which St. Augustine calls the perpetual present: “If the present were perpetually present, there would be no longer any time, but only eternity.”3 Heman Humphrey positively viewed our short life on earth as “…a threshold of eternity-the infancy of immortality; that here our characters are to be formed for the innumerable ages of future being-that our everlasting happiness or misery is suspended upon our improvement of this inch or two of time.”3 This life is a probationary period and an opportunity to prepare for eternal blessings for believers who place their faith in the Lord Jesus to the end. This timeless truth gives the breath in our nostrils an impressive new meaning with an unimaginable, intrinsic value. We are standing on the brink of eternity! This fleeting existence is enough for us to prepare for our grand entry into a greater and larger existence. The relative ratio of life on earth to eternity is immeasurable. It is incalculable. “It is not one grain of sand to the sum total of the dusty particles that make up this huge and solid earth. It is less.” The eternity that awaits the believer “has no end, for it has no progress. It is duration not in motion, but at rest…The actions of this little limited life are empowered to decide for eternity…We are acting for eternity.”4 This is more than compensation for the shortness of this rigorous life. It is amazing grace with a sweet sound to it.
1.Hausheer, H. (Sept., 1937). he Philosophical Review, Vol. 46, No. 5 (Sep., 1937), pp. 503-512. Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review. Accessed December 4, 2016 from https://grattoncourses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/augustine-on-time.pdf
2. Gibbs, C. (2012). Logos 1 of Writing God’s Book of Life. Published by R. Crafton Gibbs via Google E-Books. Pp. 18.
3.Hausheer, H. (Sept., 1937). he Philosophical Review, Vol. 46, No. 5 (Sep., 1937), pp. 503-512. Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review. Accessed December 4, 2016 from https://grattoncourses.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/augustine-on-time.pdf
4.Humphrey, H. (1833). Sermon No. 91: Time Measured by Eternity. The American National Preacher: 1834. Original Sermons from The Living Ministers of the United States (Dickinson, A. ed.). Vol. 7 & 8. S.W. Benedict & Co. 150 Nassau Street. New York. Pp. 290- 301