Time goes, you say? Ah no! Alas, time stays; we go. ~H. L. Mencken
Hard as it is to believe, Christmas Eve is a mere two weeks from today. Whatever happened to 2009?
It melted like an icicle in a blast furnace.
In Sheldon Vanauken's singular work A Severe Mercy (Harper & Row, 1977), he poignantly examines the issue of time as it relates to the human condition in general and to the Christian in particular:
If, indeed, we all have a kind of appetite for eternity, we have allowed ourselves to be caught up in a society that frustrates our longing at every turn. Half our inventions are advertised to save time -- the washing machine, the fast car, the jet flight -- but for what? Never were people more harried by time: by watches, by buzzers, by time clocks, by precise schedules, by the beginning of the program. There is, in fact, some truth in 'the good old days': no other civilization of the past was ever so harried by time.
And yet, why not? Time is our natural environment. We live in time as we live in the air we breathe. And we love the air -- who has not taken deep breaths of pure, fresh country air, just for the pleasure of it? How strange that we cannot love time. It spoils our loveliest moments. Nothing quite comes up to expectations because of it.
We alone: animals, so far as we can see, are unaware of time, untroubled. Time is their natural environment. Why do we sense that it is not ours?
C.S. Lewis ... asked how it was that I, as a product of a materialistic universe, was not at home there. 'Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did, would that fact itself not strongly suggest that they had not always been, or would not always be, aquatic creatures?' Then, if we complain of time and take such joy in the seemingly timeless moment, what does that suggest?
It suggests that we have not always been or will not always be purely temporal creatures. It suggests that we were created for eternity. (emphasis mine)
Not only are we harried by time, we seem unable, despite a thousand generations, even to get used to it. We are always amazed at it -- how fast it goes, how slowly it goes, how much of it is gone. Where, we cry, has the time gone? We aren't adapted to it, not at home in it. If that is so, it may appear as a proof, or at least a powerful suggestion, that eternity exists and is our home.
The word "eternity" appears only once in the Bible -- in Isaiah chapter 57:
For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones. (v. 15)
And yet all of life is set to the tune of eternity, and only in view of eternity do life and time make any sense.
In this Christmas season let us remember the One Whose definitive life defines both time and eternity, without saving faith in Whom our brief sojourn here has less meaning and worth than a broken ornament.
And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:11-13)
All Scripture quoted and referenced in this article is from the King James Bible.
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