A blessed Christmas and happy new year to you all. Another year rolls by and suddenly it’s 2020 ~ a year to restore our vision, one might hope. But vision seems to be an increasingly disfavored quality in today’s culture of anxiety, fear, and polarization as various factions compete to “fix the world” according to their own preconceived agendas. Yet caught up in that worldly frenzy we also stand to loose the very thing that God once set foot on this mortal coil to give his restless creatures: PEACE. Today one must work overtime to restore that vision of interior peace which, after all, is God’s vision as well.
Peace is, to a large extent, dependent upon our knowing who we are and the humble acceptance of our relative insignificance – not our imagined importance – in this broken world. After all we have very little time at our disposal in the great scheme of things, and how we use that limited time may well determine our ultimate state of happiness. This thought struck me forcefully as I was counting down the hours and minutes to midnight on December 31.
Awaiting the dawn of the new year I tried to imagine the story of our world compressed into just one past year, 2019. Only last January, using my time compression scenario, cosmic explosions and collisions of rock and space dust were just forming our rocky planet, some four billion years ago (in real time) according to the best scientific estimates. Even so, this earth was so hot and hostile that several billion years elapsed before the most elemental microbial life could survive, which translates to somewhere around mid-August on my compressed time line. Finally, in early November, the first signs of more complex life forms appeared, although the age of mammals had to wait much longer, perhaps Christmas Eve, before cute furry creatures could scamper playfully through the grass.
But where was man in all this creative process? He is by far the latest arrival of all. Man finally enters the story of creation on December 31, little more than 15 minutes before midnight! It appears, however, that he didn’t really come prepared for the party because he didn’t emerge from the stone age until 70 or 80 seconds till midnight, leaving hardly a minute to spare to build up and tear down countless civilizations! All of recorded history is then compressed into the final 30 seconds of our year. That first Christmas when God miraculously joined himself to our humanity occurred just 14 seconds before midnight. If you are as old as I am (68 in 2020) then we both arrived on the scene exactly 1/2 second before the chimes announced the birth of a new year.
The implications here are profound if one takes a few seconds to ponder. Time, like space, provides a very humbling reminder of our actual importance and significance, or lack thereof, within this grand, bubbling universe. Every time you hear the clock tick off one more second, think of it as two full lifetimes passing by. That is how transient our stay on this earth truly is. If so, are there then times when we put too much stock in our earthly plans, worries, concerns, and projects? But in reality, we were made for some far greater purpose which can only be fulfilled in a wholly different time zone ~ that time zone called eternity.
Eternity is where wise people set their sights and ambitions because eternity is that realm of unending time for which we were designed from the start. The old world with its kind of time (chronos) is but a passing thing. The relevant question is, will you be adequately prepared for what replaces it? The time we spend here and now is our one and only chance to prepare for a future of endless, eternal time. Time is a precious commodity and our allotted 1/2 second, give or take, in the here and now allows precious little time to get ready for eternity.
The old adage, “time is money” can be very misleading for the simple reason that money can be replaced but time is irreplaceable. Time is far more valuable than money because once we spend it we will never get it back. When the current allotted time is up, death becomes our entry point into that eternal time zone. Will yours be a time of unending joy and peace in the presence of the One who made all time or it will become a time of anguish, regret, and endless suffering because you were too busy with other interests to acknowledge and serve the Lord of Time? Do not delay in making a commitment because each one of us is only given their (relative) half second or so to decide how they will spend that future eternal expanse of time. Use your time well then and realize that it takes true vision to look beyond the grave to the “timeless” times that we will all come to dwell in eternally.
Francis J. Pierson + a.m.d.g.
January 1, 2020