How Much Time Left?

A Vienna regulator pendulum clock hangs on our living room wall, with “Kephart” and “1989” carved on the access door. It’s the one object of significant value and quality I have ever hand-made—or, more correctly, was coached through hand-making by an extremely patient expert clockmaker. For thirty-three years and counting, the constant rhythm has marked the passing seconds, while the engraved date impresses me with how fast the years have passed.

That clock reminds me that time moves on relentlessly, whether I notice or not. It seems just a few years ago, I was seventeen, yet today at ten AM, I am sixty, and (should God allow me the blessing) by the moment that clock strikes noon, I’ll be seventy-five. Also, it seems that as I get older, time moves more rapidly. For instance, with each passing year, my Christmases feel closer together; as a child, they seemed years apart, but now I perceive them as arriving about every six months.

The topic of time—specifically our experience and management of it—is the subject of many Bible references. Seldom is the focus on schedules and appointments and punctuality. Instead, the Scriptures point to a greater perspective. While our busy culture speaks of saving time, cheating time, and being on time, God calls us to weightier considerations.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12)

Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” (Ps. 39:4)

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.” (Ps. 103:15-16)

All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Ps. 139:16)

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

In these and other passages, we are reminded that God gives us time on earth as an invaluable and limited resource, one to be invested wisely. Instead of a clock, perhaps a better symbol for the Bible’s concept of time would be an hourglass. Rather than the round clock face of twelve numbers, giving its impression that time comes in repeated cycles of seemingly endless availability (“It’s 2:15 AGAIN?” “Yes, twice a day every day!” 😊), it could be a helpful reality check to view time as sand grains unavoidably draining from an ever-shrinking supply. It might provide us with fresh motivation to more passionately seek to make every moment count.

The good news is two-fold and anchored in the character of our Father God. First, while we cannot know for certain how much earthly time is left for us, our Heavenly Father knows (see Psalm 139 above). No matter what, none of us will leave this life a second sooner or later than God has already established and anticipated.

Second, the even greater news is that God, who exists beyond time (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” 2 Peter 3:8), has provided through Jesus the way for all of us to “jump the time limit” to forever with Him (“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life” John 6:47). Time may be restricted for us in this earthly existence, but thanks to Jesus, we who know Him as Savior need never worry that we will ever “run out of time” with Him.

Be encouraged. Make the most of your moments here, knowing that “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun!”

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