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A Timely Article About Time for Those Who Have Time to Read It

Every consequence is eternal, and if Satan can’t make you be bad, he’ll make you be busy. For five years as a Christian I have feverishly studied and admired the quality of God which was brought to my attention first–His eternal nature. You’ve heard Him called the Alpha & Omega, the beginning and the end, but it’s far more than a cute title. The reason that I stress this quality is that I believe it directly affects us constantly, and our understanding of it is a key to life. By the end of this article, I hope that you have found a fascinating and life-changing area of study while realizing we have barely scratched the surface of it. If you look at the length of this article and tell yourself you don’t have the time for it, you might miss out on finding out exactly why your schedule and attention span are so abused you can’t spare a few minutes to read something. Bear with me.

"The distinction between the past, present, & future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein
“The distinction between the past, present, & future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.” – Albert Einstein

It would never have mattered if a certain piece of fruit hadn’t been bitten, but eternity becomes fascinating to creatures who are bound to time as a tool God uses within His curse on creation. It took on a completely different significance once the clock started ticking towards all of our inevitable dates with death, and since that moment, humans have desperately tried to overcome both time and death.

Memories have such a strong hold onto us that the entire U.S. auto industry is designing cars to resemble models from decades ago, and Michael Jordan has retroed more shoes than anyone thought possible. The relevance of money hinges on time. We all spend our time hoping to earn some amount of money we will be satisfied by, but it all falls apart the moment the minutes keep coming and the dollars stop. If you’re living paycheck to paycheck, it’s not the bills that have a hold of you, it’s your use of time.

We jump the gun and confuse all sorts of things with love, because after all, love takes time. We laugh at those who will forever regret the ink they permanently had stabbed into their skin. We fight aging like it’s a plague and even foolishly hope to overcome death by some method of our own. Nevertheless, time has us. In fact, much of God’s curse on creation is based upon the concept of entropy, or things gradually breaking down over time.

I happen to think it applies all over the place. Your marriage might gradually break down. Your health and that new car you bought most certainly will fall victim to entropy and break down over time. Societies have grown into dominating world empires, only for entropy to eventually render them into nothing more than a mention in the history books. And ultimately, the very ground we walk on is suffering from it. Time has ahold of it all.

Wisdom reveals that regarding its value as a resource, everything pales in comparison. Libraries could be filled with the books written on how to manage your time better, but you might read one only to find out it was a waste of time. Oh the irony! However, when you choose to follow Christ, you are gifted with a special perspective built upon faith that allows you to let go of both your future and your past, while actually learning what to do with the present moment. Droves of people will spend their entire lives never figuring that out. They will spend their lives daily regretting yesterdays and worrying about tomorrows, all the while hoping others are impressed every time they freeze frame a snapshot for their social media highlight reel. It’s a sad state of affairs, but don’t get me wrong, I believe everyone struggles with it. I just happen to also believe, and frankly know, that there are God-given ways to overcome.

Words Never Die

Your ability to overcome hinges significantly on your use of words. Our words dance with time constantly. In fact, I tried to count the number of words within this article that are dependent upon the context of time for us to even understand them. The task quickly became overwhelming. Even words like ‘certain’ are dependent upon time for context. When you say you know something for certain, you’re claiming it as an absolute which nothing that happens in the future or anything you learn about in the past can change. This is why when you truly come to understand the staggering limitations time holds over our capacity for knowledge, you will struggle to not slap the next person you encounter presenting himself as a know-it-all. But I digress.

We need to live within the realization that once we let go of a word, we never get it back. Lupe Fiasco may have said it best,

“You gotta treat your vocal chords, like it’s a fortress
And treat every single one of your words, like reinforcements
And especially when you’re recording
Cause that’s the portion that’s important”

This is one of my favorite quotes of all time because I believe it accurately represents the amount of importance we need to consider our words with. Notice how the significance of time comes into the quote with the line “especially when you’re recording”. Lupe is recognizing his inability to ever get any of those words back. It goes beyond recording booths though. You’re being recorded every time you’re within earshot of anyone. Think gossip doesn’t ride the waves of time with incredibly harmful consequences? I know a guy who’s entire existence, as far as my knowledge is concerned, is based upon something he supposedly said years ago. I have to overcome time’s absurd temptation to decide that I know who he is based on the tiniest of snapshots. We run the risk of doing this in varying degrees every day.

Be careful with your words.

God certainly was with His, and that’s actually the point here. I didn’t have to give you a Lupe example. It just made for a good modern connection, but make no mistake, God is the ultimate wordsmith to which none can be compared. He carved out a portion of the timeline which He created, and freeze framed it as His story of His Son for His Word. In His plot of reconciliation, placing us within time was a must. His eternal nature is revealed to us by His word, which never changes, and proves itself to be true by flawlessly predicting the future before it happens. Fireworks should explode within the brain of any temporal human being that manages to recognize eternity for what it is because the Eternal One was gracious enough to reveal it.

While He reigns in eternity, He forces us to live within individual moments. A real recognition that He gave them to us exceedingly convinces a person that all of them are only well spent and satisfied by giving them back to Him. It’s like an earthly glimpse at the amazing reconciliation genuine followers of Christ are all headed toward.  If you have no understanding of how much spending time with Him is absolutely worth it, you might be tempted to selfishly and devilishly wonder why this tyrannical God is demanding all of your time. I say “devilishly” because a selfish effort to become a control freak was and still is the devil’s calling card, and we need to recognize when we are mimicking it. Nevertheless, as a former atheist I understand this thought pattern, but am telling you from personal experience that upon spending one second in fellowship with God, I wanted Him to have every one of them after it.

The Ultimate Control-Freak

HourglassI think it’s probably clear by now that I think this is important, but I have my reasons—personal ones. My own inability to overcome it has on a few occasions allowed time to grip me in such a blinding way that very real damage was done. Come to find out, there are also some unrighteous ways to try and overcome time. The mild version looks something like using marijuana as a fast forward button on your life. There have been seasons in mine where I very successfully erased countless small portions of time by numbing myself with ridiculously excessive smoking. It was damaging, but there is a worse example.

A while ago I became convicted to help anyone battling suicidal thoughts by being transparent about my own experience. In a particularly rough trial during my prior life, I found out that your mind might wander to somewhere it’s never been before, because you’re battling a bigger giant than you’ve ever seen before. I was facing a difficult heart surgery that would wind up taking nine hours. All of a sudden the reality of my life was the type of situation where one accidental flinch of the surgeon’s hand and I’m left bleeding out. When you run up against something like that, it instantaneously becomes crystal clear which people in your life actually care.

From my vantage point, my fiancé at the time was not one of them, so she had to go. The surgery was a week away and now I felt I was up against it alone, and this was pre-salvation…I had no hope. The convenience of the situation was being able to project any suicidal thoughts onto that surgery as a way to try and convince myself that I didn’t care if I survived it. Obviously I did, but the nine-hour surgery was originally supposed to only take three. I’m on the other side of it by the grace of God alone, and you will never convince me otherwise.

I woke up in a foggy pain I can’t even attempt to describe, and for reasons I can’t explain, the very first thought I had was that my feet felt like they were on fire. Perhaps it was just the meds, but to this day I’ve wondered if I had been standing on hell’s doorstep when God decided to throw some more sand into my hourglass. Ultimately it was that moment when I first sincerely considered the other side of death, and although I remained an atheist and didn’t receive salvation until three years later, you could say the journey began there. The point of what I learned about time is this; it is an absurdly self-idolatrous action to reach for so much control over your life that you decide to stop the clock that God started.

If you somehow find yourself in that place, Satan has blinded you toward the value of your present moment by convincing you that your past spells no hope for your future. You’ll also feel alone, but the truth is that we all, in varying degrees, have days when we have to convince ourselves to face whatever the clock has waiting. No matter where you are on the spectrum of how difficult that might feel like doing, I’m telling you that your loving Creator is available at any moment within this timeline called your life. Make the most important use of your words ever and pray some His way. If you do that with authenticity, it will build a faith that will eventually fully expect answered prayers. Answers that will direct the individual moments of your life toward the purposes they were made for, at which point it will look like you are still losing your life, even though it will actually be the first time you ever really found it. Sound familiar? It’s the paradox described in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16, verse 25.

Now you know why I personally consider this information a key to life. Nothing has done more to simultaneously humble me and magnify my view of God than staring in awe at the fact that He is endlessly outside of this thing we call history, yet totally in control of it.

One last thing about words relating to time—God didn’t write us a guide to life without demonstration. He didn’t deliver the book to our doorstep, He showed up and moved in. He didn’t just give us words, He lived them, and every word we ever deliver that we don’t follow with the appropriate action it requires is not only worthless, but a misrepresentation of Him. Let’s overcome time. Maybe you don’t write songs or articles. That doesn’t matter. Your words and actions could, in a brief moment, change the reality of eternity for forevermore, and you were made in the image of the One willing to show you how.

He’s waiting. Tick-tock goes the clock.

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About Nathan Mathis

Nathan Mathis is affectionately known as Beardo, the bearded weirdo. He is a follower of Christ, a self-made thousandaire, and a lover of Hip-Hop. He currently owns and operates and runs an accounting firm with his father.

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