One year ends another one starts, second after second, since the beginning of the world, the clock is ticking. What is the significance of time? Why are we so obsessed with it and why we celebrate again and again the passing of another year with parties and fireworks?
One explanation may be that the New Year that comes brings with it a wind of hope, a belief that maybe we’ll do better than in the year past. Resolutions are a must at the bridge between years, but most of them are trivial things like loosing weight or stop smoking, nothing substantial. We see clearly however that after a certain age new year celebrations and particularly birthdays become a bitter-sweet event and the passing of years is not a celebration of entering into maturity, but the beginning of a downhill pathway.
The flow of years changes us, but God remains eternal, immovable, unchangeable, beyond time, “But thou art the same, And thy years shall have no end.” (Psa 102:27)
Time is different however for God and us, as the psalmist observes: “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night. Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up. In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.” (Ps 90:4-6)
How much time we actually need in the world? King David says that “the days of our years [are] seventy; and if by reason of strength [they be] eighty, yet [is] their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” (Psa 90:10)
During this time we are afraid we won’t make the most of it; fear that we don’t have control over its implacable passing, fear that we won’t have enough time. But enough time for what? To spend it into trivial pleasures, to leave “something” behind, see the world? This could be in truth considered a “waste of time”.
We should look at time from a very different perspective. Time is not a rat race but a true gift from God. No matter how much we live an hour, 30 years, 100, we are given just enough time to reach salvation. A father said once that if a man wants to be saved, a day from sunrise till sunset is enough. We have the biblical example of the thief on the cross who “stole” paradise with a word.
But even though thinks like this can happen, they remain exceptions because we are not the masters of time, only God Himself knows the beginning and the end of the world and of each one of us. Then how are we supposed to know when to repent, how do we know when to put a stop of our perennial spiritual procrastination? Some tried to predict the end of the world but they were proven wrong.
There is however another way, instead of guessing we should try preparation, we should try to live everyday, as it will be the last. St. Basil the Great use to say that the greatest philosophy is the thought of death. Indeed with that perspective in mind one can realize that that best resolution of all is repentance, a paradigm shift from wasting time to redeeming time. As Christians we have to redeem the time that we were given by using it properly for our salvation and thus paradoxically gaining an eternity.