Bible reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1-15
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to throw away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live; moreover, it is God’s gift that all should eat and drink and take pleasure in all their toil. I know that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it; God has done this, so that all should stand in awe before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already is; and God seeks out what has gone by.
Staying home has caused us to revisit many aspects of our lives. We have had the opportunity see our habits and priorities with fresh eyes, as well as our relationships with people, food, our work, the earth, and time. I have noticed that many of my recent conversations with friends have touched on how strange time has been through this quarantine. Days blend with days. The possibility of boredom flutters around every moment. We feel like we may be doing less than we are used to; yet, each day ends up full and we find ourselves going to bed to start the cycle again.
As I reflect on the passage of time, particularly over these past few months, I am reminded that part of the issue was my misunderstanding. I forgot that I do not own time. How I use time does not prove its worth. Instead, time is a tide in which I live. I am swept up in time and all I truly need is with me at any given moment.
As the wisdom of Ecclesiastes reminds us, God is not bound by time. God is creator and designer of time. God is in, with, under, and through all of time. God’s gifts – forgiveness, love, reconciliation, renewal – are not bound by time. When we let go of our hold on time, we are open to receive these gifts freely.
There is a time for everything and time continues to flow. We never know how much time we have in this life. Pandemics are striking reminders of this, as are the deaths of friends and loved ones. There never seems to be a good time for death and grief. Yet, it is part of the order of time. Solace comes in letting God be God, remembering that God is in every moment, holding us in and through every moment. All of time is made complete in the love of God.
The more we let go of our hold on time, the more we can live each moment as holy as it is. Transformation becomes possible with every breath. New vision can shape perspective with every turn of the head. We stand on the brink of new life every single day. We remember that all that we have is from our good and gracious God, and the greatest of all that we have is love. Finally, despite all of the unknowns, we can live the truth that, “all we love is all we’ll take.”
Let the following song by Carrie Newcomer be your closing prayer. As you listen, what words rise as your prayer for the day? What feelings emerge? Who do you think of? Give it all to God and know that you are wrapped in God’s arms of love with every moment today.
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Thank you for sharing the song. It was gorgeous. I love Parker Palmer’s writings. And Carrie has a lovely voice. I will have to look up more of their collaboration. I appreciated your words on time. Especially “I forgot that I do not own time. How I use time does not prove its worth. Instead, time is a tide in which I live.” That is a thought that I want to hold on too.