Friday, December 18, 2015

Jonathan Edwards and the Urgency of Time

“… time is the more to be prized by men, because a whole eternity depends upon it; and yet we have but a little of time.”
 “How much more would many men prize their time if they knew that they had but a few months, or a few days, more to live!”
— Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758)
Life seems like an eternity,
But it can be over in a flash,
Once we’re gone, we’re gone,
Now’s the time to dash!
LET us imagine, as we embark on this journey with Edwards’ quote, that what is suggested above is perfectly true: you will be dead in a matter of weeks. The worst of that fact is, if that were true, you would have no idea, unless it was cancer or some other terminal illness that was diagnosed.
I like to imagine my death regularly, not so much as a means of preparing for the event, but as a means for motivating myself to not only stay safe, but to make the most of my time. And yet, of all times to die, now would not be it. I have a two-year-old who I desperately want to remember me; who needs to have memory of his father. For that matter, it’s not the right time for his mother to depart, either. But sometimes that happens in life; people depart.
Eternity is so bound up in our souls that we hardly contemplate death. We think we’ll live and go on living. And yet we also know that one day we’ll die. We just don’t comprehend that reality.
At the Christmas season we tend to think that we’ll only have so many Christmases.
This is a good thought, because it makes us appraise our lives soberly. We don’t have that long, even though life seems like an eternity. All these thoughts can press us into a place where we feel everything must be done now, and that’s probably worse than being ignorant of time’s urgency.
When Time Becomes Idolatry
Time is not a good god. She is a tyrant that tends us toward busyness and anxiety, haggardness and fatigue.
I’ve been guilty of worshipping time; of making my life a flurry to sponge up the time as if it were a spilt fluid on the floor, not leaving a drop went on the surface. But ultimately it leaves us exhausted.
Time is not a good thing to worship; to live our lives constantly around.
Let’s finish with this thought from Edwards:
“We know that [time] is very short, but we know not how short.”
If we hold this idea in tension with the idea that we cannot have everything, only some things, then we’re in a position to make the most of the few things we consider to be truly important.
Time is a resource best spent on those who are living, breathing, loving persons in our lives.
Time is short, living is now, and when love is essential, the regrets are few.
Time was made for love.
Time taken as a gift, we give it forward as we live. We live grateful lives, promising God by our actions, that we’ll find contentment in what we have and joy in the moment.
Time is best spent in being content with what we have so joy indwells each moment.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.

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