My wife and I were privileged to spend about a month over Christmas in Canada visiting our family. It was my first time back in Canada in over 3 years. It was my wife’s second time and my daughter’s first visit. Our family loved the visit as my father got to meet his grand-daughter for the first time in person, as did other extended family.
One thing that came to mind while I was there was the reality of how time marches on and stops for no one. I’ve basically lived in Peru for the last 7 years, and whenever I return back to Peterborough, Ontario, life there didn’t pause itself when I left. Things aren’t in a perpetual state of timelessness waiting for me to return to pick up where things left off.
Things have moved on without me, and continue to do so.
People have more gray hair than the last time I saw them.
Some guys have gotten balder.
Some people have gotten fatter, others thinner.
Some people have passed on from this life to the next.
As much as I might want to, I can’t say “you know what, I don’t really like this Peru thing, I think I want to rewind, go back to this point in time and continue down this other path and see how it would have turned out.”
What’s done is done.
We can only decide to move forward and not let our past impede our future.
Time is the one thing we can spend, but can never get a refund on.
We can never return it.
Once you’ve used it, it’s gone.
You can’t get a do over.
[Tweet “Time is the one thing we can spend, but can never get a refund on.”]
I’ve always enjoyed stories — whether science fiction or fantasy movies or whatever — where people travel through time and see the present changed, or experience alternate realities where events may have happened differently than we are accustomed to (like one of my fave sci-fi shows, Sliders).
I recently watched the uber popular Making a Murderer on Netflix. And whether I think the guy in the series is guilty or innocent not being pertinent, I’m finding myself wondering — what if Steven Avery had all those first 18 years in jail given back to him and could do them over? What would be different about his life? Would he and his family have a different appreciation for the passage of time? Or do we only appreciate it when we’ve had an opportunity to feel like we’ve wasted it or had it stolen from us?
I get thinking what if something like that happened to me? Not the going to jail part. Let’s swap it with being in a coma or something.
Eighteen years of life just gone.
Adam Sandler explored these themes once in a more lighthearted way in a comedy of his called Click — where he was given a remote control over his life where he could skip things and pause things only to find, to his horror, life fast-forwarded without him and his kids had grown up and he didn’t get to enjoy seeing it.
Leonard Ravenhill is attributed with a quote along the lines of “God will forgive you, but time will never forgive you.”
You can restore lost friendships, and reconcile with people you need to repent to or ask forgiveness from, but you can never have back whatever time was spent in the interim.
If you lose all your money, whether it’s stolen from you or you waste it somehow, you can earn it back. You can set up a Go Fund Me site or someone may help you out and replace what was stolen from you.
But you can never have that done with time.
Your house can burn down or be destroyed in some kind of natural disaster, and you can buy back all the belongings and possessions you lost. Maybe your fellowship can chip in and help you get back on your feet and replace whatever was stolen, but time can never be replaced in the same way.
You can never get it back through any amount of power or effort.
Proverbs 20:4 says
The lazy man does not plow when the winter [planting] season arrives; So he begs at the harvest (time) and has nothing [to reap].
The time of harvest arrives and he yields nothing because of how he wasted his time and didn’t plant.
“What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14b
I remember years ago in a book by John Bevere called Driven by Eternity that he gave an “equation” that’s always stuck with me.
He said to take the age you anticipate you will be when you die. It will be different for each one of us, I’m sure, but it doesn’t matter because this equation will work no matter the number used. If you plan on living until you’re 90 years old, then use that finite number. Then imagine the number represented by eternity, which is an infinite number.
It doesn’t matter what number you use for your lifespan, but with our number, 90, if you divide it by infinite you will wind up with zero.
So in other words, your life is literally ‘zero’ in the timeline of infinite time, eternity.
Adds some perspective, doesn’t it? Gives a different idea behind our life being just a mist or a vapor. Here one moment, gone the next.
[Tweet ““God will forgive you, but time will never forgive you.” – Leonard Ravenhill”]
I was listening to an audiobook called Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day by Todd Henry and the author suggested that asking “if today were the last day of your life, how would you spend it?” is a horrible question and leads to wasting a day in all sorts of ways.
Instead he suggested what if instead you were told a biographer was going to write a book about your life and your achievements that would one day be read by millions, and this writer would spend only one day with you, how would you spend it? Would knowing that a snapshot into your life for just one day would be amplified and put on display for others have any impact on the way you lived your life while this biographer documented your every activity?
Oh, and what if you didn’t know what day in particular that biographer was going to come — would that motivate you to watch how you life each day to its fullest?
Get on with it. Time is running out.
Today’s post contained a lot of notes I prepared for a message I gave at River Run Fellowship in Peterborough, Ontario when we were last in Canada. You can listen to it below.