“Lord, make me know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am.”
Psalm 39:4 (NKJV)
I have been reading a book about the calendar down through the ages. And it’s a funny thing about time—for most of that time most people just weren’t bothered about time. As long as they knew when Spring was, roughly, for sowing, and when autumn was for harvest, really what else did they need to know? They got up with the sun rising and went to bed with its setting.
But I have to agree with the author of my book* who causes me to conclude that all time is relative. Not the passing of time, nor the recording of time, but the experiencing of time. We all recognise that sometimes time seems to pass very quickly, usually when we’re enjoying ourselves; and at other times when whatever it seems will never end (perhaps listening to a particularly boring sermon?), very, very slowly!
But time is physical and how we mark it is largely human. The Psalmist quoted above indicates that we need to consider time, the measure of our days and our end, understanding how frail we are before God. Yes, God gives indicators (see Genesis 1), but how society marks time has been largely up to each of them. Until, that is, the advent of international travel.
If you think we understand about time pretty well today, think again. Come the summer, thanks to our new super-dooper atomic clock which counts the passing seconds ever more accurately, we shall gain a second to ‘catch up’ with the universe. The trouble is that the interaction between the moon and earth is causing the earth to slow in its rotation and that slowing is now long enough to accrue into a second’s difference in measurement. Our days are now just that bit longer than 24 hours.
In other words, our time is relative; it isn’t that time is slowing down or that we are ‘losing’ our life with someone stealing our seconds. No, it’s because even time itself is physical, subject to the natural laws of decay over time. It seems, given long enough, that our months would become 29 and a half days in length, so that we would be ‘in sync’ with the moon, with only one half of the earth ever seeing the moon and at all times. Apparently that would be ideal for using the moon as a starting place for inter-planetary travel. But just about impossible for calculating the lengths of months and using the moon to help us note the passing of time.
When Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil,” we learn to ‘measure our days’ carefully.
Eternal Father, for us time is ever on the move, and our lives are subject all the time to its passing. Help us to measure our days and use our limited time wisely. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Study by John Stettaford
*The Calendar by David Ewing Duncan, Forth Estate, 1998.
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