The Passage Of Time

We live in a typical small Midwestern town. Population 2,533, or so says the welcome sign. Honestly, I think that may be a slight exaggeration. The town is the county seat, so the courthouse, and thus the clock tower, sits in the town square.

On occasion, I wake up in the middle of the night and hear, “bong, bong, bong, bong” as the clock rings in the next hour. In this example, the clock struck four times. It is 4:00 am. It might not seem like much but listening to the ringing of the bells was four seconds of my life; four seconds I will never get back.

When I started my career in law enforcement, an old-timer told me, “The days will go by slow, but the weeks will go by fast.” For the most part, he was correct. Our schedules and jobs were on a thirteen-week rotation. Those quarter of years seemed to rocket by quickly. The days – some flew by, others were as if the clock never moved.

Something else I heard when I was younger, “Time goes by faster as you get older.” I have found this statement true.

Julie and I were married young. We raised four children and have joyfully watched as fourteen grandchildren entered the family. Our first grandchild married two months ago. They claim they will wait a few years, but I expect a great-grandchild to come along by the end of 2023.

Bong, bong, bong, bong.

We are fortunate enough to live near family. The furthest is only an hour away.

Usually, there is a family gathering of some sort around the holidays. It does not matter if the get-together is large or small; memories often come up. It has always been a wonderment of mine – what and how people remember. In talking about the same event, usually, the memories are different. And, in speaking of the past in general, there are events my kids remember from growing up that I have no recollection of, and vice versa.

Bong, bong, bong, bong.

Life is like a vapor; it appears for a short time, then vanishes (James 4:14).

This summer, Julie and I will celebrate forty-four years of marriage. It seems like she has always been there, but I do have memories over a half-century old from a time before we ever met.

No one knows how long their life will last. My sister died at 26. Duane, my best man at our wedding, passed away at 24. My great-grandmother lived to see 100, and my grandma on the other side of the family lived well into her 90s. I am sixty-two years old; if I live an average lifespan, I have roughly ten to twenty years left on this earth. But, only God knows, I may have less than five minutes, I may have forty years.

Bong, bong, bong, bong.

It seems like the length of time between the ringings of the clock tower is getting closer together.

Whether an individual dies young or lives to one hundred and beyond, we all have days carved into our memories. Some of those days we cherish, some we wish never happened. Many days fit into a routine or pattern, being very much the same; not an abundance of memories there.

As I look at the clock, the clock tower is only four minutes away from ringing nine times. We all have times in life we wish never ended. We all have times we wish never occurred. Regardless, the clock tower continues to bong.

There will come a day when the clock tower will ring its bell, and I will not be around to hear it. All of us will have that day when we no longer can hear the clock – our time here will vanish away.

Eternity will start for every one of us.

1 Corinthians 15 speaks of the coming resurrection; it says something interesting in verse 53, “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

Notice the word “must.” The Bible does not use the words like hope, might, or possibly – it uses the word must. Every mortal body must put on immortality. Billions of people have died, and their bodies have returned to dust. Still, someday God will gather their dust and create a resurrected body.

The spirit and soul of everyone that has died are either with God or in hell (2 Corinthians 5:8 and Luke 16:23). Where they are depends on what they did with Jesus Christ while living their life here.

We have all sinned; therefore, no amount of good can save us. Why? Regardless of the good we have done, we are still guilty of the wrong we have committed.

Sin is only be removed by a blood sacrifice (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, was that sacrifice (Isaiah 53:4-12; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

God provided the sacrifice. Now it is up to us to place faith in that sacrifice. Salvation does not come from being a good person, or some religious ritual, or refraining from the most heinous sins; it only comes through faith. Romans 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Bong, bong, bong, bong.

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As people continue to seek solid answers in these uncertain times, the editors of the Baltimore Post-Examiner are inviting an array of spiritual teachers to share insights from the ages along with words of comfort and hope. These timely messages are not exclusive to any particular faith walk and will be included in our ongoing Spirituality series.