Thoughts from Joe Harris on his birthday about Time....
It is strange to think how quickly, at this time in my life, seasons seem to come and go. Time is perplexing. The days seem to grind on so slowly and yet I stop for a moment to consider where I am and I realize just how quickly time is passing. We make time our master to order our days and mark the record of our existence, but it is a mean master. As we age it passes more quickly until we cannot keep pace and loose track of it all together, and then it is gone. Such is this life. I spend an inordinate amount of time buried in the details of my work and home and find myself trudging along forgetting that time is short and as much of it as possible should be spent on family, friends and fun.
When I was a boy, I worked in the cotton fields. The days were long and hot, but the work was not hard and I enjoyed the sense of accomplishment that comes from earning a wage. The work of hoeing weeds was not mentally challenging. It provided a wonderful opportunity to daydream. My mind was often off at sea chasing pirates, or cruising down the Mississippi with Huck Finn.
The monotony of the labor was sometimes interrupted by a “dust devil.” Dust devils are mini whirlwinds that seem to come from nowhere. They blow through your life, momentarily disrupting your routine, rearranging things but with the exception of a little dust in your eye and a hat blown a few rows away, they cause no real damage, just a cause for a pause in the routine. I would look forward to these little disruptions. Sometimes I would chase them, trying to stay in the vortex, but I was never agile enough to match their twists and jumps. And then they would be gone, sometimes blowing by quickly and moving into another field, sometimes just vanishing.
Now that I am older, seasons, and holidays and vacations that once seemed to last forever have become little dust devils; brief interruptions in the routine that pass by so quickly that I scarcely have time to drop my hoe and chase after them. As I go about the daily grind of my working life, I yearn for these little interruptions. They come but like the dust devil, they never last long enough. It seems that you can never really catch them and before you realize what has happened you are back at the millstone, grinding away.
In Ephesians 5:15 Paul admonishes us to 'be very careful how you live, making the most of your time.' I have let so much of the important stuff slip through my fingers, like trying to cup my hands with a drink of water and losing most of it before it reaches my mouth. For the lack of devoting the necessary time, I have lost relationships, love, and laughter and much of all that is good and worthy… there is a cost to living without being careful of how one spends his time.
I cross out another day on the calendar. I accomplished most of the items on the to-do list. I paid the bills that seem to come more often than they used to and before long I am flipping another page on the calendar and soon another year has passed. Are these the important measures of ones life?
I ponder how one actually measures a lifetime, in years, months and days? Is not time just a man-made mathematical measurement, but is it not also history? Are events on a timeline the best depiction of a life or is there a better way to convey the essence of one’s time spent here?
Solomon, who according to the Bible was the wisest man who ever lived, also pondered this question. In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes he eloquently comments on time by saying “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” This passage challenges us to look at history and at our own lives from a grander perspective. Solomon realized that God is in control of history, and that nothing occurs, which He has not already incorporated into His plan.
Having this perspective makes time less important; though everything making up this life is hung on the framework of time – the framework is not what is important. The important things; the hurt, disappointment and darkness, the grace, forgiveness and joy, the doubt, fear and redemption, the faith, hope and most of all love, that is what is important to measure. Love I think is perhaps the best measure of a lifetime. How much love does one circulate? In my experience the love you take is much greater than the love you give. Occasionally, I have given without expectation of receiving and that is when I have received the most in return. Perhaps it is time to love with abandon as if time is running out. It is you know.
Though I find the paradox of time perplexing, I go along taking life as it comes, one day at a time, in the hope that when it’s all said and done it has been for the good of everyone we have touched, the noblest of causes and best that we could have done.