Millennium, century, decade, year, month, week, day, hour, minute, these are the most common terms we use to measure time. Each can be defined and accurately measured. For the objective scientist or historian, among others, it can be very important to accurately measure the passing of time.
Me, you, us are often the most meaningful, if not objective, centers of time. We know the day, month, and year we were born. We know what happened yesterday; we think we know what will happen tomorrow. We keep track of time in calendars, not so much to know the date, but to know what a particular day or date means to us, in terms of remembrance, celebration, or activity.
We admit that time can be calculated precisely. Yet we’ve also experienced the truth of the statement time flies when you’re having fun. Conversely, the seconds seem to crawl when we’re waiting for something to happen.
This weekend we’re celebrating the New Year, a holiday that really does not mean much. In the most basic sense, the new year is a measure of time. The clock moves, the last day of December ends, the first day of January begins. That’s it!
Yet we’ve made it more than an objective turning of a calendar page. The old year is one to remember and, hopefully learn from. Bad things and good happened during the past year. We measure bad and good mostly based on how it affected ourselves. How did the economy affect my life? Did someone I know die or do something special? Did I or someone I know marry, have a child, achieve an accomplishment?
We look to the new year with the same perspective. What will it mean for me? What will happen to or around me during the next 12 months which will color my view of the entire year? Trying to move from passive to active in anticipating the new year, we’ll often make resolutions or goals to try to move our lives in a certain (hopefully good) direction.
What does God say about time? I don’t know whether or not I should be surprised, but the Bible does not mention seconds or minutes; weeks come up only twice; over 200 references to months, mostly in the Old Testament; nothing specifically about decades or centuries; millennium 10 times, six of them in Revelation chapter 20.
The Bible does say a lot about time in a personal, subjective way, beginning with the most basic of beginnings and a very good perspective, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2).
Sifting through other biblical passages on time, faithful, and logical follow-ups would be the acknowledgement of Psalm 31:15a, “My times are in your hand . . .” and the resolution of Psalm 90:12, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
Lest we bog down with psalmists, New Testament writers help us see the personal, practical, and active side of the days God has given us. The beloved apostle reminds us “the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:17), and Paul, in Galatians 6:9, tells us “let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”
May we be able to say, every day of 2017, the words of Psalm 118:24,
“This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”