Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Time is...

Henry Van Dyke is quoted as saying, "Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity." There is a lot of wisdom in those words of this author and clergyman! This is taken from his poem, "Time Is", and has often been the selection to be read at some funerals, inscribed on plaques in remembrance of those lost in battle, and simply shared in a moment of tender reflection with one we might love. 

I have seen the kinds of tasks God has given each of us to do to keep one busy, and I know God has made everything beautiful for its time. God has also placed in our minds a sense of eternity; we look back on the past and ponder over the future, yet we cannot understand the doings of God. I know there is nothing better for us than to be joyful and to do good throughout our lives; to eat and drink and see the good in all of our hard work is a gift from God. I know everything God does endures for all time. Nothing can be added to it; nothing can be taken away from it. We humans can only stand in awe of all God has done. (Ecclesiastes 3:10-14 VOICE)

All things are made beautiful for their time - almost all things I can imagine fade in beauty as time passes - except the wonder and grace of God's love!  In fact, his love grows in beauty with each day - we must stop to consider its beauty, though!  God has placed in our minds a sense of eternity - even if we don't fully know or appreciate him yet, having not committed our lives to him, yet there is this sense of eternity. We don't have to fully understand how God works or even know fully who he is to know he exists!  We can see him in the beauty of creation around us - but we can discover that beauty of his creation within us, as well!  As Van Dyke said, "...time is eternity," not because we exist in it, but because of the discoveries we make within it!  Time can be both our friend or our worst enemy - for it passes through our fingers like grains of sand, often unnoticed and not fully appreciated until it has gone completely from us.  It would do us well to learn not to squander the moments God has prepared for us each and every day - moments of joy, some laughter, and even a little sorrow on occasion.  

We don't know the moments in time when things will change, putting us into a tailspin of sorts.  It could be the loss of a job, the terror of hearing those words announcing a diagnosis not easily embraced, or the sudden loneliness and agony of heart caused by the loss of a loved one.  We also don't know the moments when joy will abound, laughter will resonate, and fear will flee because we are dancing with joyful anticipation and determined heart.  I've tried to "add to" my life - how about you?  I think this is a practice we humans think we can somehow master - "fixing" our lives by "adding this or that" to it.  We add relationships, but fail to take care to really make sure they grow, then wonder why we are miserable in them.  We add consumables, but fail to consider when they are old and worn they will no longer bring us such joy.  We add one pursuit after another in an attempt to fill some emptiness within, but fail to recognize the empty place is really the place God seeks to dwell.  

Time is too slow for those who wait.  Yet, God's plan includes us waiting "on" and "for" many things which will become great blessings in our lives - simply because of what is accomplished in the "wait".  Time is too swift for those who fear.  Yet, when fear is finally released, it as though all of time slows to a reasonable pace and we begin to appreciate the moments taken in each step toward the place God has designed for us to be at that very moment.  Time is indeed way too long for those who grieve.  Yet, a heavy heart is made light in the presence of a loving God who binds up the empty places, bringing strength and goodness out of the fondness of memories tucked deep within.  Time is too short for those who rejoice.  Yet, the heart is filled, the body is renewed, and the spirit is energized in those moments of ecstatic celebration of the greatness of a God who cares for each of our needs.  Time is indeed eternity for those who enter into his love!

Nothing can be added to his love.  Nothing can be taken away, either.  Unlike human love, his love is unending - like a continuous circle, there is no "break" in his love.  In fact, his love is best expressed in his grace - removing our sin from us as far as the east is from the west.  Think on that one a little and you might just see God's love in a new way - for anyone who loves us enough to remove those things which have hurt us and done us harm that far away from us cares deeply for our every need.  To Van Dyke's words I might just add, "To those who don't know God's grace, time matters."  It is this passing moment which might just change the view we have of eternity.  It might just be this moment when sin's hold is broken and the distance between its shame and guilt is made so great we are free to celebrate and rejoice freely in the presence of the one who made that distance possible!  Just sayin!