Time Enough at Last
One of the most critically acclaimed Twilight Zone episodes was entitled “Time Enough to Last.” It featured a near-sighted bookworm named Henry Bemis, played by a young Burgess Meredith. Bemis has no interest, ambition, or desire, other than reading books. As a mediocre bank employee, he survives a nuclear blast while hiding in the bank’s vault - reading. Emerging form the carnage, he discovers there is no one else alive except him. He rummages around the city in search of someone, anyone! Suddenly, he finds the ruins of a library with all its books intact. He is in heaven! With no one around, he has time at last to read, read and read every book, without anyone reminding him of his responsibilities and duties! The ending has the usual Twilight Zone twist. Bemis removes his glasses and while sitting down, he accidentally crushes them. Now he cannot see to read all the books! In dramatic irony, he now has all the time in the world to read, but no longer possess the ability to do so! Serling’s closing narration quotes the famous words of Scottish poet and icon, Bobby Burns about how life’s plans often turn out quite differently than we expect them to: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”
As we witness the change of seasons and the passage of time, what are your thoughts? Do you, like many who are advancing in age, refer to time as a curse? One man, reflecting on retirement, actually said that his “golden years” were anything but that.
What is time? We know time is a unit of measure, quantified in seconds, minutes and hours. But clearly its relationship to our lives is more than a unit of measure. The great church doctor, Augustine of Hippo, referred to the mystery of time as follows:
“What do we refer to more familiarly and knowingly than time? Certainly we understand it
when we speak about it, we understand it also when we heart it described by another. What
then is time? If one asks me, I know; if I want to explain it to someone who asks me,
I don’t know.”
Did you catch the paradox of time and our understanding? I can remember at the age of twelve asking my Sunday School teacher a question about the relationship between God and time. My question was this: as time had to have a beginning point, how could God exist before there was time? Unprepared to provide an answer, he referred me to the senior pastor, as he said he could better answer that question. As I think about it, I never did receive an answer!
That mystery is at the heart of Augustine’s inquiry regarding time. Perhaps that is what the Psalmist meant in Psalm 90 when he stated. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God.” Personally, I solidified my belief in God as a Christian because of the time factor in scripture at the Birth of Jesus narrative, and what I had been taught about time and light in science class in school. We learned due to the vast distances in space, light we receive from the sun, stars, and other objects is not seen in “real time.” The sun’s light takes 8+ minutes to reach the earth. So when we see light from the Sun in the present, we are really looking at light from the past. I then applied this concept to the Star seen by the Magi that we read of at Jesus’ birth. I applied the same concept of light and time to substantiate the gospel narrative as written. Based on this, I concluded that God was removed from any time element while working in our reality of time. ( WOW! That’s heavy!)
But the issue of time for most of us is more practical than theoretical or speculative. What do we do with time? How do we look at time? And what finite value time has in our lives? Is time a curse or something different?
Time is a gift from God. We have time as a privilege to use for God’s glory and the service of others. Several things we can extrapolate from this conclusion are: Time is good. Time is short, Time has been redeemed.
I think the first two statements are self-explanatory, but what about time redeemed? The curse of time running out and death are ended by faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the only perfect person. By this fact alone, he deserved to live forever. Yet he was crucified on our behalf. Based on this, what if we changed our perspective about time? Instead of dread, fear or loathing of time and its inevitable progression, what if we lived each moment as people who are redeemed in and by Christ? If we lived as followers, we would be witnesses to the gospel. How? If we let Christ shine through us, with our hopes attached to Him, we become witnesses for others.
That is what we offer to a world that needs hope, good news and encouragement. Share the Good News of Jesus Christ! We have been given the gift of time; use it for the kingdom now and for the future.
Yours in Christ,