There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. – Ecclesiastes 1:1-8
Time is such a weird thing. It’s constantly moving forward, yet there is no end in mind. The more things change, the more they stay the same. There is nothing new under the sun.
Yet this thing called “time,” enigmatic as it may be, is of utmost importance to us. Animals don’t really have a sense of time. The eat whenever they’re fed. They sleep whenever they’re tired. They don’t care that it’s one o’clock in the morning; they want to go outside, now! We humans, however, are swimming in the awareness of time. It’s on our wrists, our cell phones, our computers, our microwaves, our dashboards, our building signs, and in nearly ever room we walk into. There is a constant tick from the analog clocks sounding off the seconds. There is a constant blink from the digital clocks reminding us that we haven’t properly reset it since the last power outage.
Time is everywhere.
In the above poem Solomon observes that everything has it’s time. Of the 28 events, 14 couplets, only 2 events are beyond our ability to control (mostly). There is a time to be born and a time to die. Did you have any say about your birthday? If I had, I would not have chosen December. That’s a horrible month for a birthday.
Do most people get any say about when they will die? Only in such saddening cases of suicide that are heard far too frequently. Nobody wakes up in the morning knowing they are going to be hit by a drunk driver. None of the parents, children, or teachers knew that a crazed gunman was going to terrorize their school last Friday.
Everything else in life is up to us. It’s our choice when to hug and when not to. It’s our choice when to build and when to demolish. It’s our choice when to speak and when to shut up – a choice more people should choose…just sayin’. Every activity has it’s time and place, and it takes a wise man to know when and where all things are appropriate.
So what’s to glean from all of his discussion on time in Ecclesiastes chapter 3? It’s summed up in two words: Carpe Diem.
Carpe diem is NOT the same as “YOLO!” “You only live once” is used as an excuse to act like a moron. It’s something to yell as you try to play human Frogger with interstate traffic. Carpe diem, seize the day, is a reminder that each day is a gift not to be wasted. Make the most of your life. Spend your time doing what you love, with whom you love, for the One who loves you.
I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him. -Ecclesiastes 3:12-15
Every time a tragedy hits, no matter what it is – hurricane, mass murder, drunk driver, cancer, etc – it brings us to our knees. We were a nations brought to our knees this weekend. Life and time, I think, are seen a bit more clearly on your knees, close to the ground, beneath the smog and smoke that keeps us in a haze all day long. When we have nothing left to stand on we realize who is holding us up. Our life is but a mist – here for a moment and then gone. But everything God does endures forever.
Use your time to do what you love – with whom you love – for the One who loves you. Carpe that diem.