Time’s rapid advance reminds us to slow down
The long poem was full of stanzas describing the brevity of time. Several of my friends became fascinated with the idea, and we often spent lunch reading and quoting the lines. One passage we all memorized was the 51st stanza:
The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.
That statement rang true — even to my 16-year-old mind, and now that 60 more years have passed, the sobering truth that time moves on and can never be called back is stark reality.
My life has been blest, and I know of only a few times I would cancel a line or “wash out a Word of it.” Still, I wish I had lived my life with a keener awareness that no do-overs are possible.
Almost my only regret has to do with family. I rationalized about not spending time with my elderly parents — my work schedule was too busy. And even now I rationalize neglect of my grown children and growing grandchildren.
Although I love teaching 18-to-22-year-olds the importance of faith, ideas and literature, too often that work keeps me from meaningful time with my four youngest grandchildren, who live in the same city with me. I am praying that I can be wise in balancing work that gives meaning to my life and valuable time with my precious impressionable young children.
Last spring I reread Darryl Tippens’ “Pilgrim Heart,” a wonderful, thought-provoking study of finding meaning for all life through knowing and understanding God. Tippens devotes several chapters to the importance of Sabbath for mankind. Most Christians think of the Sabbath rules of the Old Testament. Tippens talks about the principle of rest and reflection.
In an age when most jobs require much more than 40 hours a week, and when families have a calendar for each child to keep up with school, sport and music activities, quiet and reflection are hard to come by. Tippens encourages us to respect our bodies and our spirits by protecting time for relationships with God, family and friends.
If we consider the example of Jesus, he had three short years to accomplish his mission of preparing disciples to carry on the work of the Kingdom and teaching men everywhere to live by faith.
The Gospels show clearly that he was pressed on every side by people who wanted to hear him or to be blessed by him. Even when he went to the desert, crowds followed to hear him and seek miracles. Even when he journeyed back to Galilee from Jerusalem and his group stopped in Samaria to buy food, Jesus took time to teach a sinful woman about living water and true worship. He seemed never too busy for any seeker. When he was busiest, he took his disciples away for a retreat to pray and rest.
Many people are so accustomed to having a schedule or working on projects that time has to be taken an hour or two at a stretch. Scheduling a time for personal Bible study requires discipline of the first order.
Each person must find the way that best brings peace, awareness and renewal in God. If each of us could manage our lives so that we had one day — other than Sunday — to give attention to our spiritual needs, to our spouse’s spiritual needs and to spiritual needs of other friends and brothers, we could be more pleasing to God, have more joy in our relationships and glorify God within our communities.
I have great admiration for people who always seem to be there for others who are having problems or celebrations. Those Christians who visit any friend or church member in the hospital inspire great respect. Many families regularly prepare meals to share with the elderly or families with struggles. Many people are vigilant about greeting cards to express concern and love for others.
God does not command us to keep the Sabbath, but his guidance from another era can be a way for all to find renewal through Jesus.