Spectrum Perspectives: Time
(In typical Singular Spectrum fashion, this first Spectrum Perspectives Sunday post has arrived on a Monday due to Tim N.’s dial-up-of-doom. Thanks for your patience, and we hope you enjoy the new format as we explore our first topic: time!)
As a college student, time has become my enemy and my friend. When Tim told me that the topic for this week was time, I must say that I was not looking forward to it. I knew that I would feel convicted and I didn’t want to feel that way.
Time is a God-given gift that is to be used for God’s glory. That should be the goal of our whole life: to give God the glory. When we live in a way that glorifies God, we are saying that God is more important than any other way of living. We choose to glorify God with our lives because He has given us so much that we don’t even come close to deserving.
Being a college kid has taught me a lot, but an important one I have learned recently is that I waste a lot of time. I always have and Lord-willing I won’t always. But this semester has been tough. I have lots and lots of stuff due, but for some reason I find time to get online and to watch my favorite TV show. When it becomes the night before I have something due, I realize just how much time I could have spent on my project but rather, chose to spend it on stupid and unimportant things. I get so discouraged and disgusted, because this is NOT how I want to live my life. I want my life to be a very reflection of Christ. I do not want it to be a reflection of my mistake of putting things off. I want to become a man of integrity, and that isn’t just the purity issues most Christian men want to overcome, but integrity of the way I spend my time. I challenge myself and my readers to live this week with the goal to worship and glorify God with the way we use our time.
Time flies. It heals all wounds. There’s no time like the present. Time flies when you’re having fun. Etc. Etc.
Our language is rich with colloquialisms about time. It’s a concept that’s fundamental to our culture’s understanding of reality. Though I don’t know the colloquialisms of any other language, I would venture to guess that there are a similar number of sayings for any culture.
Time binds us; it orders our lives, and prevents accomplishments. There is never enough time to accomplish all that one might wish to accomplish. It’s no wonder that we see it show up so often in the flotsam of our culture. Each saying is an attempt to rationalize this binding sequentiality, to explain it, to help in dealing with, or to make it chafe a little less.
One might ask, “Why do we have so many ambitions and interests if we are bound by the confines of time to accomplish only a small portion of what we would like?” There’s a simple reason: time does not bind us forever.
On Thursday, I attended a speech by one of my favorite novelists, Jonathan Safran Foer. He spoke about change, about how we must change in order to continue living yet we must remain the same in order to continue being ourselves, and how that paradox pervades and informs our lives. He also spoke about time, how it brings changes both good and bad, and how no one has enough of it . At the end of his speech, Jonathan read a poem by Israeli poet Yahuda Amichai called “Man Doesn’t Have Time”, and the words of that poem have weighed on my mind ever since. Here are those words:
A man doesn’t have time in his life
to have time for everything.
He doesn’t have seasons enough to have
a season for every purpose. Ecclesiastes
Was wrong about that.
A man needs to love and to hate at the same moment,
to laugh and cry with the same eyes,
with the same hands to throw stones and to gather them,
to make love in war and war in love.
And to hate and forgive and remember and forget,
to arrange and confuse, to eat and to digest
takes years and years to do.
A man doesn’t have time.
When he loses he seeks, when he finds
he forgets, when he forgets he loves, when he loves
he begins to forget.
And his soul is seasoned, his soul
is very professional.
Only his body remains forever
an amateur. It tries and it misses,
gets muddled, doesn’t learn a thing,
drunk and blind in its pleasures
and its pains.
He will die as figs die in autumn,
Shriveled and full of himself and sweet,
the leaves growing dry on the ground,
the bare branches pointing to the place
where there’s time for everything.
It was those words that inspired me to choose time as our topic this week on Singular Spectrum, and it is those words that I want to leave with you as we begin. We don’t have enough time to separate all of the hurting and healing and remembering and forgetting and loving and hating and forgiving and celebrating and mourning and being that comes with life, and so we must take them all together. We must learn to live as best we can with the people we meet in the time that we have. The trouble is, we must learn as we go – there’s no time for practice. Each moment only comes once. How will you use it?