Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Where Does the Time Go?

Well another year has come and gone. It's 2012 already. I can't believe how quickly the last year flew by. I am reminded of a poem by Henry Twells, written on a clock in Chester Cathedral:

When as a child, I laughed and wept,
Time crept.
When as a youth, I dreamt and talked,
Time walked.
When I became a full-grown man,
Time ran.
When older still I daily grew,
Time flew.
Soon I shall find on travelling on-
Time gone.
O Christ, wilt Thou have saved me then?

Henry Twells lived between 1823 and 1900, so he wasn't feeling the effects of our modern electronic age. Our time on Earth is short, no matter when and where we live.

Every New Year's eve Holland turns into a  massive fireworks display. For the few days leading up to December 31st, shops sell a mind-boggling variety of things that sparkle, pop, whizz, hiss, and boom. For three days, our local bicycle shop stops selling bicycles in favour of little bundles of gunpowder. We bought ours from a garden centre.

Normally, we don't buy fireworks. As a parent I am possibly a little bit too careful with my kids. I know what fireworks can do to little fingers so would rather leave it to the professionals. Besides which, there's really no need for us to buy our own because everybody else seems to spend a fortune on the stuff. Each year, if the weather is good, we climb onto the roof and watch as the sky lights up in a spectacular display of colour and light. This year I relented and we splashed out on a small selection for the princely sum of fifty Euros.

The few rockets and candles in our "family pack" lasted about ten minutes and we were left with about three hundred firecrackers, each resembling a little stick of dynamite. After the novelty wore off, we had about two hundred and eighty left over, so we spent the next half hour performing what amounted to a series of science experiments. We made a small fire and stood watching the flames. My son commented how ironic it was that we were having so much fun with a our handful of fireworks while, all around us, the sky was filled with spectacular explosions, each one of which probably cost more than our entire budget for the evening. 

As we stood watching our little bonfire, it struck me how temporary life on this planet really is. One day, everything I know will be gone. My children, my wife, my house, my life. No wonder people feel the need to party like it's the end of the word. I think that, deep down inside, they know that everything must come to an end, and so they party as hard as they can while they can. If only people would understand that this is not all there is. When the clock stops on each and every one of us, eternity begins and we will realize the importance of the choices we made during our brief sojourn on planet Earth. God's love is infinite and we get the option to spend eternity enjoying that love. How exciting is that?

The end for us here on Earth is not really the end but the beginning, because where we are going, we won't need clocks.


  1. Amen! I used to imagine eternity as one endless church service and choral concert. Much as I love the Lord and singing, that was not an exciting prospect. Now I realize that one of God's essential attributes is that he is Creator. Since he does not change, that creativity will not come to an end when time does. I can't wait to see what he has in store! Even better than a fireworks display, no doubt!

  2. Yes, I think it is going to be awesome. And I suspect the concept of eternity will mean something very different when we are in God's presence. In South Africa, they have the expression "just now" which can mean anything from almost immediately to a billion years from now. I think eternity in Heaven will be a little bit like that ;-).

  3. Thanks for that timely reminder, Paul. It also took me back to my childhood where we always saved old junk that would be sure to burn brightly. And friendly competition rose between neighbours who'd have the biggest bonfire. (We had big back yards, then.) One time a young boy joined in with a box full of fireworks, and wouldn't you know it? An ember set them all alight, accompanied by his howls of outrage!!!