My friend and preaching colleague, Matt Allen, posted a thought on facebook the other day that caught my attention.
He said, “We are closer to Christmas than New Years Day earlier this year.”
Indeed, we’re past the halfway point of 2021. Today is the 187th day of the year with 178 days left.
This week’s Bible reading is from Ecclesiastes, where the wise man employes the expression “life under the sun” to speak of our life on earth. “Life under the sun” is calculated by time.
In chapter 3 is the famous treatise that begins “To everything, there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.” This text was made popular to many unfamiliar with the Bible by a group of my generation, The Byrds, whose 1965 album featured the song “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season.”
These couplets remind us that not only is “there is time to be born, and a time to die,” but in-between our lives are filled with both good times and tough times.
“A Time to weep and a time to laugh.”
“A time to mourn and a time to dance.”
“A time to gain and a time to lose.”
“A time of war and a time of peace.”
Some actions and activities are regulated to a certain season and a specific time. Common sense often dictates what is the right time for each activity.
“A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted.”
A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones.”
“A time to keep, And a time to throw away.’
“A time to tear, And a time to sew.”
Others call for wisdom, discretion, and judgment regarding what a situation demands at a certain time and circumstance in our lives. Some of these are difficult to understand. Hard to accept. Or painful to apply in our lives.
“A time to keep silence, And a time to speak.”
“A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing.”
“A time to love, And a time to hate.”
“A time to kill, And a time to heal.”
“A time to break down, And a time to build up.”
It’s important to remember that time is life. As Benjamin Franklin put it, “Does thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” The Bible reminds us that experience shows us that our lives are short. Fleeting. And transitory.
Time and life are called “a mist that appears and vanishes” (Jas. 4:14).
“A passing shadow” (Ps. 144:4).
“A flower that fades” (I Pet. 1:24).
“Swifter than a runner” (Job 9:25).
We often say that “time flies.” But Nathaniel Hawthrone reminds us that “Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind.” What shadow are you leaving?
Too often we waste time, and our lives, by worrying about the past. Fretting about our failures. Regretting our decisions. And bemoaning our circumstances.
Admittedly, the past 15 months have been a challenging time for everyone. Difficult for many. Yet, through it some have prospered. People have obeyed the gospel. Churches have grown. And some people have used the time to reexamine their lives. Reorder their priorities. And redirect their goals.
And so we now find our lives past the halfway point of this year. Where are you spiritually?
Have you grown stronger, or become weaker?
Are you active, or idle?
Flourishing, or stagnant?
Reaching forward, or looking backward?
The title of an old song, “Time Waits for No One,” is a truism that cannot be denied. What are you doing about it?
Today, we look ahead to the last half of the year, what changes will you make? What goals will you reach for? What opportunities will you seek? How will you use your time?
The words of Jonathan Estrin challenge our thinking and call for greater resolve. “The way we spend our time defines who we are.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman