A Matter of Time
Usually I look forward to the fall. I enjoy the changes in the trees and the vibrant colors of Michigan autumn. I am not quite as excited about the prospect that winter is not far behind, however. But this year the idea of change is weighing heavily on me. We have experienced so much change, so much that is not normal, so much that is yet uncertain. It is sometimes wearisome and somewhat distressing.
As I write this, parents are figuring out how to balance work expectations with the needs of children who are schooling at home. Employers are trying to balance the needs of their business with the needs of employees who are now part time teachers and full-time caregivers. Life in the midst of a pandemic has called for constant change. Every press conference carries with it a sense of apprehension. Phrases like “new normal”, “unprecedented”, “pivot” have become overused buzz words leading to change fatigue. If our kids were in school, I would use the “nails on a chalkboard” analogy when hearing these words. Can’t we just get back to normal?
But what is normal? Was the harried and hectic pace of pre-pandemic life norma? Were the demands on our time and our resources normal? Were the stress levels normal? Were we socially isolated and just did not know it? One of the outcomes of this Covid experience is that many of us have had an opportunity to reevaluate what is truly important to us, and our families. We have been forced to slow down, stay put, spend more time together, rediscover the value of each individual within our close circle, our bubble, our pod. Perhaps this is not so bad.
Over the past several months we have been faced with the harsh reality that change is inevitable, and life is fragile. Too many people are no longer with us. Whether they were victims of Covid 19, or random violence does not so much matter. The sad truth is that they are no longer with us, and we all wish we could have had just a little more time with them. Truthfully, every day and every moment are “unprecedented”, as we have never experienced them before. Once they are past, we will never get the chance again.
King Solomon, known for his wisdom, shares these words of challenge and encouragement in the Book of Ecclesiastes which are relevant for us today:
For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.
What do people really get for all their hard work?
I have seen the burden God has placed on us all.
Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.
So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-12 (New Living Translation, 2nd ed.)