Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

HOW MUCH TIME DO WE HAVE LEFT? By Rayola Kelley

Here we are another year passing us by like a run-away locomotive. Depending on where you are in the timeline of your life, we each eventually become more aware of how we are indeed a creature of time. For each of us there was clearly a beginning, and each year brings us face to face with the fact that life as we know it here, will one day end. The older you get time seems to pass through the hour glass a lot faster. Sometimes time is a blur, while other times you almost feel as if you hear each bit of sand passing through the narrow opening of the hour glass and you sense you are missing something, or that maybe life is, or has, been passing you by.

Time proves to be a friend or a foe. For some there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish what they have set forth, but on the other hand, time can prove to be a friend when you are given that opportunity to see something come to fruition. However, when it comes to this life, we are not allowed to bathe in or linger too long in times of victory and accomplishments because time moves on, taking with it the glitter or luster of the moment. In time the feeling of ecstasy over such events wears off and we come face to face with that old adage, “Is this all there is?”

At the end of the day, how many of us have remarked, “Where has the time gone?” If you are like me, I don’t like wasting time because I have much going on in my life that I have yet to complete. As we try to break down our activities, we discover time has been ebbed away by the many demands of life that never seem to end, the expectations of others that are often impossible to satisfy, details that end up burying us under that which seems ridiculous, or innocent enough activities that in the end seem to be a waste of time after all. It is clear that time never stops and it creates cycles when it comes to our life.

When you start to break down all of life’s so called “requirements”, you realize that demands choke out the Word of God, the expectations of others rob you of contentment, details leave you frustrated, and activities leave you with a leanness in your spirit, questioning the significance of it all. (Matthew 13:22). Oftentimes it throws people into some kind of crisis as they realize the things they thought were of value and pursued with such tenacity prove to be quite empty.

It is upon examining where time goes and what it requires and leaves behind, that one can become weary with their life. We want our life to have meaning and purpose. Our accomplishments are to give our life meaning, our relationships are to speak of the impact we have made in the lives of others, and our activities are to set in stone the significance of our life. However, time causes us to realize that worldly accomplishments are fleeting, most relationships fickle, and our impact temporary (1 Peter 1:24-25).

There is no time in eternity, but being of this world means we have no real comprehension of this unseen dimension. We may intellectually know what eternity means but we can’t imagine it. We are subject to time and in light of eternity, our life is nothing more than a vapor, our trouble temporary, and our footprints quickly taken away by the winds of the world (2 Corinthians 4:17; James 4:14).

When we finally step into eternity, we are stepping into a dimension where there are no measurements to our existence. After all, eternity tells us there was no beginning to God and no end to Him and that He has always been. We can’t explain eternity, but by faith we believe that God, and all that is attached to His great work of redemption is eternal, unchanging, and glorious (Genesis 1:1; John 1:1-3; 1 Timothy 1:17). We realize that which operates in time will be, in a sense, ushered into eternity.

On earth we began our lives at birth and our physical lives end at death, but once we step into eternity, there is no past and no future and what is present will always be. There is no stopping what is, and no stimulus to change the course of a matter. In light of eternity, we must realize that as creatures of time we must get matters right here, because past here is no recourse to change our status (Hebrews 9:27). In fact, on earth, we are in some way preparing for eternity.
When you consider time in light of God and eternity, the Bible speaks of dispensations, ages, and the fullness of time.

Dispensations have to do with how something is administered on earth. For instance, we live in a dispensation of grace and before this dispensation was the dispensation of the Law. When it came to the Law, everything was considered in light of the Law and now we live in grace which means everything is measured, considered, and executed according to grace (Galatians 4:3-7; Ephesians 3:2-5).

Ages have to do with certain time frames in which something will function. Each age has its philosophies, idols and pinnacles, which point to the age as having a beginning and an end. In between is the story of progression of civilizations based on the strength of armies, only to end up on the great slide of digression that is marked by the moral weakness of man as he is taken down into the cesspool of sin and failure, ending with one civilization after another being brought down in judgment and buried by the sands of time.

The fullness of time has to do with God fulfilling His plan or purpose. When Jesus’ came it was because everything was in place and when He comes again it will be when the fullness of the Gentiles has been brought to fruition for judgment (Romans 11:25).

I know there are many days I have foolishly wasted because of vain activities and squandered because of foolish thoughts. The problem with time is you can’t ever get it back.

Time has a different effect on us based on our age. We have a tendency to think time is eternal when we are children looking forward with great expectation toward some event that seems like it will never happen. It eventually does because time comes and goes. In our youth at the peak of our strength, we take for granted there is still much time left when in reality our days are numbered (Job 14:1-5; Psalm 90:12).

In our 30’s and 40’s we feel that time is still on our side but have we acquired wisdom to properly run the race so our lives will count in light of eternity? We get a bit reflective about time in our 50’s, but have we realized that time is a gift that can’t be wasted? We feel a bit of urgency in our 60’s because the strength of our youth is now waning and frustration in our 70’s because we can’t do as much due to time marking our lives, reminding us life as we know it is becoming like graveclothes. For those who make it to their 80’s they admit they are surprised they are still here, and in their 90’s they know they are on borrowed time. And what about when one hits the 100 mark, do they still believe they have much time left?

The Bible tells us how to look at time, in what way to consider our lives in regard to time, and what we must do in light of time. We can’t redo time. We can’t recapture what we lost due to time, and we can’t rewind time. Granted, man would like to invent a time machine where he could go back and change what he does not like. However, the truth is man would not change anything because to change the past would require him to first change his mind and ways, causing him to make different decisions. The main reason most people would want to go back is to control events to suit their purpose, not change their mind or attitude to change their course. By the way, such a change is called repentance, which is the only way to rectify and make sense out of our past that is often marked by foolishness.

When I think about what I would do if I could go back in time and change something, I have to be honest and admit there are things that I wished I had not done, there are things I wished I had done differently, and there are things that revealed my foolishness, but I have realized all of these foolish judgments, mishaps, missed opportunities, and past sins have comprised the person I am now.

When I came to Christ, my past sins were washed away, but eventually I had to realize that the sins of my present and future had to not only be addressed through repentance and forgiveness, but I had to identify any wrong attitude, address it and come into line with God’s attitude towards a matter. My decision to glean valuable lessons from sins, failures, and crises of faith in order to ensure the outcome of present and future spiritual challenges has kept me from living in regrets.

I watched my mother struggle with regrets from her past. Regrets often come out of guilt about failures that can’t be changed. The problem with regret is that it makes one so miserable that they try to adjust their life (or relationships) with others to avoid regrets. In so doing, they often fall into other traps that make them feel even more guilty and condemned because in the end their attitude can become foul due to resentment.

The key to avoiding regrets is doing what is right in a situation. It is not a matter of trying to please someone, who in their selfish state can’t be satisfied; rather, it is doing what is right before the great Judge of man’s souls, the Lord. It is taking the knowledge of what is right and properly applying it by faith which proves to be the wise thing to do, thereby, pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6). If you do what is right, there is no regret that can take hold of you in the form of guilt, no false accusation that buries one in condemnation, and no burden that becomes too great that you become buried under it.

This is why Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-17 to walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time for the days are evil, and as we can see, winding down to a destructive climax. He goes on to say to not be unwise but to understand the will of the Lord. Circumspectly points to upright which will contain heavenly wisdom that will give us the discretion to avoid foolish decisions and make sound and just judgments.

Paul does give us a hint into the significance of time, but God established time for man for a reason. We are told in Genesis 6:3, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” Our holy God will put away evil, and time puts a limitation on its agendas, schemes, and destruction. God often judged the third or fourth generation of those who were considered as “wicked seed” to stop them in their wicked plans.

I appreciate that time points to putting off this aging body in an exchange for a new, resurrected, glorified body, ushering me into a new dimension and establishing me forever in eternity. It reminds me of the hope of leaving behind the world’s evil and wickedness that so vexes my spirit and entering into the fullness of our Lord’s righteousness, holiness, and glory. Jesus returning for His Church reminds me that it will signal an end to this present dispensation and a dawning of a new age where His people will reign with Him, for He is the King of kings and Lord of lords (Romans 8:17; 2 Timothy 2:12).

Where are we in the timeline when it comes to Jesus’ coming? Consider the attitude of the generations now living. It’s normal for those who are starting out in their life to hope that Jesus tarries until they experience their life, grow old with those they love and watch their children grow to adulthood and experience life. Sadly, there is always going to be the generation that will mark the end to an age. As Christians, we need to be cognizant of the times we live in, but not for the purpose of calculating the day He comes, but to ensure we are ready for His coming.

As we embark on a new year, let us take time to shed the regrets and wrongs of the past at the cross of Jesus and look up into the face of love to gain His perspective. Let us with grace accept the days we are living in for what they are, be wise in our attitude and response towards them, and know that the only day we can be sure of is today. Therefore, we need to redeem the present time as we make decisions in light of eternity, as well as sound judgments in respect to the present in order to do right. In doing so we will be ready to recognize opportunities to do the Lord’s business before our strength fails us and seize such opportunities against the time when no man will be able to work in the great darkness of this present age (John 9:4).