It all started last year when the AARP Card came in the mail with my name on it. It was the beginning of the cold reality that I have lived for half a century. I remember when I thought that fifty was ancient!
We now regularly receive mail about retirement plans, retirement villages, and all things retirement. But the piece of mail that topped it all came this week.
It was from The Scooter Store. It begins, “Dear Mr. Jenkins, We’ve seen it time after time. People who are reluctant to use any mobility assistance because they think they will become dependent on it…” That’s why we’ve enclosed you FREE Personal Mobility Assessment…” You just can’t imagine how much a power chair or scooter will add to your well-being, independence, and happiness.”
The following types of questions were asked: “Do you sometimes feel left out by not being able to get together with family and friends? Do you have health-related issues that limit your mobility? Are you feeling like a bother to others due to limited mobility? Have you fallen in the past 12 months?”
This all reminds me of a story that the late, great Alabama preacher, V.P. Black related to me one time. He said that he had been invited to preach in a special meeting by a church in the northern part of the country. He said to the man who was talking with, “I will be glad to do that, but you all need to know that I am getting older, and I can’t get around as easily as I used to.” Brother Black said that he had to make a couple of connecting flights from Alabama to get there and that at each stop, as well as when he arrived at the final destination, they had a wheel chair waiting for him! Brother Black said, “I may be getting older, but I’m not dead, yet!!”
In the chapter, titled “Time’s Thief” from his book, “Undone by Easter,” William Willimon relates the account of horror novelist Stephen King being out for a jog one morning when he was hit by a speeding van. King spent weeks in the hospital, “fighting for his life, in terrible pain.” In one interview King admitted that the accident, “changed his life and afterward he had written some his best novels.” King continued, “Still, if someone had given me the choice of retiring peacefully to New England, or getting hit by a van and writing two or three more good books, I would have chosen retirement in a heartbeat.” Willimon said, “Listening to that interview, I muttered, ‘In my religion, that speeding, disrupting, homicidal van is sometime named, God.’”
While we may not agree with this Theology completely, the point is well made. Our timetable and God’s timetable for us are not always the same. We make plans for our lives and something happens to interrupt those plans. We schedule events and those schedules are changed.
Many of us live by the clock and the calendar. If our I-phone or computer dies and we lose our BusyCal we are sunk. Willimon makes a wonderful point when he says, “The invention and ubiquity of the clock in modernity gives the illusion of time’s uniformity, measurability, and linear progression. The clock makes time fleeting, incessant, and ultimately irretrievable. In modernity, we’re always losing time, killing time, and wasting time because we’ve lost the means to retrieve time past or live into the future. Time without God is denuded, impoverished time, time without meaning. Boredom plagues modern people because we’ve robbed time of any agency other than our own actions, producing lots of empty boring time with few surprises.”
But praise God; He has taken time for us. He took time to create us in His image (Genesis 1:26, 27). He took time before He created anything to plan our redemption (Ephesians 1:4-6; Ephesians 3:9-12). God took time to come to this earth through His Son and reveal to us grace & truth (John 1:14). He took time to save us from our sins through the death of His only Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). God took time to give us His Word, a plan that can guide us, comfort us, and teach us how to live (Psalm 119:15). Add to all of this, God’s faithfulness to man, “Your faithfulness endures to all generations…” (Psalm 119:105).
This last verse reminds us that God is not someone who was present only in the past, but He is still with us today. Many people want to study God as if He was only active in the past, but our God is still faithful and He still loves us, provides for us, cares for us, answers our prayers, in the present time!
The times of our lives are bounded by death. We are born, we live a certain number of years, and then we die. Our time here on this earth is restricted. We are limited to what we can accomplish in this life. It is this reality that causes us to want so badly to control our time. We long to have some time back. To change how we’ve lived in time.
We make statements such as, “If I could have just a few more minutes to speak with my mom again I would tell her how much I appreciated all she did for me during her life. I would tell her how sorry I am for the times I disappointed her and how much I love her.” “If I could just spend one more day with my children I’d talk to them one more time about what I feel is most important for their life.” I’d talk with them more about Jesus, and about my own weaknesses, and about how important it is to spend time with God. I would tell them how much I love them, and how thankful I am that God brought them into my life.”
But, we know it can’t happen that way, because that time is gone. However, this seemingly bad news, reveals the best news of all. Even though our lives on this earth are bounded by death, Jesus has defeated death through His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:23-28)! And in defeating death, He defeats the idea of limited time. He gives us Eternity. Where time shall be no more, we will never be rushed again, and we will never long to have time back.
One of the blessings of getting older is that we grow to appreciate more the precious moments of time we have with those we love. We realize that there are some things in life that do not matter quite as much as we once believed. We become more willing to speak with people around us about eternity. We know that our time on this earth is brief and we long for the time that we will be with our Savior (Philippians 3:20-21).
For now, I believe I’ll hold off on ordering that scooter. Even though time is moving on, there is still time left, and there is so much that needs to be done. There are too many good times to have and too many hours that need to be spent encouraging, as well as reaching out to others.
Dear Father, thank You for taking time for us. Thank you for giving us time as a gift and thank You most of all for defeating the great boundary of time by allowing Jesus to conquer death through His resurrection. Help us, dear God to use the time we have here to live for You. Help us not to waste time, but to spend our time in sharing the marvelous love of Jesus with others by the things that we say and the things that we do. Help us to use every moment of time we have to bring glory to You. In Jesus Name, Amen.