Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Time Of Our Life

Tonight, as it is annually, might be the best night of the year. The following explains my logic, a line of reasoning I know many of you will undoubtedly share. It is from November 1, 2005.

This past Sunday was my favorite day of the year. Late every October, our government gives us a gift of one extra hour- we call it Daylight Savings Time. (Perhaps not coincidentally, the government takes it back in April which also happens to be when tax payments are due.) I love the free sixty minutes- it's like getting an extra 4% on your paycheck! But, I don't like Daylight Savings Time. For one thing, it confuses me. I can never figure this out: if it's 8:00 a.m. now, what time was it at this time last week? I also prefer it being dark when I arrive at school rather than when I leave school. There are rational reasons for the shift but I'd be OK with not messing around with the clock every six months.

Time is very difficult to explain. I challenge my students to define the term without using a form of measurement and they can't. The concept appears early in the Bible. In Genesis 1:5, the terms day, night, evening, and morning are introduced. In verse 14, we are told that the lights in the sky are there to "serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years." Throughout the Scriptures, God gives his people commands based on calendar dates. Obviously, time has been important to humans from the beginning, another time component. I don't wear a watch and I don't have a classroom clock yet my day is ruled by forty-six minute segments called class periods. A bell rings and twenty-four students leave, replaced by twenty-four more. Another bell rings and the process repeats. I'm comfortable with my teaching routine. In fact, when we have a special schedule due to an assembly or all-school chapel, my day has no smooth flow to it. Most people start their years in January but teachers mark theirs from August. We define the kids by time- age, grade, or how many years they have been with us. A school without time can't function. My brothers teach at a school that doesn't use bells- the teachers rely on their clocks. I would struggle with that. I need reminders. Maybe that's why the Lord gave us days and months, years and seasons, holidays and first days of the weeks. We are reminded of our blessings and with birthdays, the feeling that the sand is gushing through the hourglass.

When I taught high school Economics classes in Tennessee, Bill Bryson, my Equitable agent, would come speak about his profession. He would use mortality tables, showing the odds of an eighteen year old in Wilson County dying that year. The probabilty was that one of every thousand would die: not one of my students thought it would be themselves. Death is a disease of the old, or so we think as teens. Time doesn't get scarce until our seventies. Time is limitless so we waste it and the minutes we waste become the years we waste. But we find out- we don't get the misused moments back. Isaac Watts put it like this:
"Time like an ever- rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away,
They lie forgotten as a dream,
Dies at the opening day."

The last two lines get me. I dream every night but by the morning, they're swept from my mind. That was Watts' view of time- the blunt reality of its relentlessness and the fact that it stops for none of us, whether Supreme Court Justice or talk-show host. The only difference between we the living and the dead is that they beat us there. It's one victory our mortal bodies can never snatch from the jaws of defeat.  

I saw a piece on one of the morning shows this past weekend, surveying people on how they would spend their extra hour. Some said exercising, some mentioned partying, most opted for sleeping. No one mentioned praying or doing something to benefit someone else. I actually spent mine eating but it was for a good cause. A fellow teacher and I had driven almost 200 miles round trip for a spiritual retreat and we got in late without having eaten any supper so my sixty minutes were focused on a Red Baron pizza and two pints of Blue Bell Ice Cream (Tin Roof, Banana Split.) I still don't like Daylight Savings Time but we live with it. That's the point- when we have no more time, we have no more life. I heard a Christian who is scientist define eternity as the absence of time so when we have no more time, our eternity has begun. A quote I used with my high school basketball teams went like this:
"If you had five minutes to live, who would you call-and what would you say-AND WHY ARE YOU WAITING?"
Whether we're on Eastern, Central, Mountain, or Pacific Standard Time, we are on the same clock...and it's ticking away for all of us. Don't run out of time before you run out of life because if you are reading this, you still have hope. I'll leave a very serious topic on a light note with my favorite quote on the subject:
"I've been on calendars but I've never been on time."
Marilyn Monroe

God bless,
Luke 18:1
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