We are well into the New Year by now. Day three of a new decade as well as a new year. Friends at church say: “I can see better, now that it’s 2020!” People celebrate the turn from New Years Eve to New Years’ Day with “Happy New Year!” toasts. We all hope to have a happy New Year. We hope others do also. I’m still in good health and have led a busy 2019 teaching and preaching. I certainly hope you have a Happy New Year! But the New Year should lead us to explore some lessons time teaches us. In a 2017 blog (What Time Teaches Us, See link below), Victoria Logan identifies four lessons: 1. To Grow, 2. To be Grateful, 3. To Forgive, and 4. To not waste it. Her thoughts help us a lot, but I want to share some of my own reflections.
As my wife and I have aged, we’ve decided to downsize. We’ll live with our daughter and her family (if we can work out the interminable complications of building a new story to their home). Now I must also find a home for my many books, collected over a lifetime. Some, when new cost me just $4.00, but now, even though they would be $20 or more new today, nobody wants them. Nobody wants books. Too much space to store them. Learn what you need on line. Google it! Our real estate agent says nobody wants our beautiful silverware set, either, or our fine china dishes. As time as edges us closer to the end of life (although living to 80 is like it used to be to live to 60), the creeping of time has taught me some important lessons. Time teaches us the everything is temporary.
Lesson Time Teaches us: Everything is Temporary
That’s something I’ve learned. All of our possessions, our home (which has provided great comfort and security) we must relinquish. Too big for us now, for people my age. Hard to keep ahead of the weeds, moss, growth. Too expensive to pay taxes on. Time to consolidate. I’ve had the opportunity to lead worship services to people in retirement homes. When I asked one lady where she was from, she said, “Dallas, Texas.” Why is someone from Dallas living in Oregon? Well, she had to leave her familiar surroundings, her treasured relationships with friends, doctors, and perhaps church friends, and move closer to family. In other words, time forced her to yield all of her life against her will. Everything she was and had was temporary. There’s another lesson time teaches us.
Lesson Time Teaches us: Loss is Real
In her move to Oregon, that lady had to leave behind her life. We avoid thinking of loss, setbacks, and disappointments, but they find us. Welcome or not, we have to face the realities of accident, death, disease. Talking with relatives across the continent (Dad came from Maine, Mom from Newfoundland), at least those who are still alive, I find they are slipping physically. One lost her husband two years ago. He was the last brother of my mother’s siblings. Another, one who married a cousin can’t get up out of her chair without help because of vertigo. She used to write chatty notes at Christmas, but not this year. One pastor friend lost his wife unexpectedly. Such is the result of the advance of time.
What About You?
Another lesson I’ve learned is how time forces me to think big thoughts. I recall commenting to a friend, “Why should I live another year? To see who wins the Super Bowl?” Big deal! Another friend, a physician who spent his life as a ob-gyn in Africa as a medical missionary, told me, “If we didn’t die, we’d never do anything. We’d be couch potatoes!” That’s true. Death limits our options; it forces us to get our priorities at least a lot better than if we lingered forever. Well If “they” must come to terms with Time, and I have to, what about You? What lessons has time taught you?
Writers of Scripture reflected on lessons Time taught them. Twice in Scripture, we read, “All men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” (I Peter 1:24; a quotation from Isaiah 40:6-8). We all think ourselves quite important, but Scripture is realistic- grass! Here today, and tomorrow, just like those who died last year, celebrities, younger than you and me; we outlived them and others will outlive us.
What is it that you’re doing that lasts? What legacy will you leave your loved-ones, friends, co-workers? How will we leave our mark? The key is the extent we live, love, and pass on the word of God. What will be my legacy, I wonder? Or yours? What lessons is time teaching you?
[Image: iStock photo.com; Article: Victoria Logan, https://www.theodysseyonline.com/what-time-teaches]