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Some truths about time

I have three things to say about time. The first you probably won’t care for, the second is helpful in an explanatory sort of way, but the last truth makes up for whatever deficiencies the other two might possess.

The first truth is that you are probably older than you think. Although we tend not to treat them this way, birthdays look backwards rather than forwards. They celebrate the year that was rather than the one that is beginning. Think about it. Your twenty-first birthday means twenty-one complete years have passed since the day of your birth. Birthday cards, notes, and well-wishers all pass along best wishes for your twenty-first year, but hopefully the upcoming year will be better than their math, because your twenty-first year is history! Even though people speak of "just turning twenty-one," the truth is you've just finished your twenty-first year and are now in your twenty-second year of life.

I heard a speaker in his early fifties talk about being in his fifth decade of life. We knew each other, so later during the course of a conversation I casually pointed out that he was actually in his sixth decade of life. He looked at me like I had pulled a chair out from under him!  I guess some truths don't set you free. 

The second has to do with why time seems to go faster the longer you live. The good news is that it has nothing to do with diminishing abilities and everything to do with our frame of reference. A boy celebrating his fifth birthday knows it is a year until his next birthday. Why does it seem as if that year takes forever? The answer is that by his frame of reference (five years), a year represents 20% of his life. That same year passes much more quickly for a person who has lived fifty years because by their frame of reference it is 2% of their life. It is the difference between experiencing the landscape at 5 miles per hour and 50 miles per hour. Time seems to go faster because it is continually shrinking in our frame of reference.

The last truth is the best. David said, "My times are in Your hands," (Psalm 31:15). You need to read the entire psalm to get the context, but he is expressing his trust in God to handle any and every situation in his life. Centuries later, Jesus would quote v. 5 of this psalm as His final words on the cross before dying. It is an inspiring anthem that assures the person of faith that no matter how old we are, how poor our grasp is in on the fleeting years, it’s all in God’s hands.

That’s the kind of news about time we need to hear.

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