More than any other occasion, the New Year marks the passage of time. We celebrate it with the dropping ball in Times Square, fireworks that ignite the night sky, fresh cut flowers in the Rose Parade, stadiums that vibrate with energy as the best college teams face off against each other. 2016 is history and 2017 has come.
On New Year’s Eve, as I do every year, I took time to write down my reflections on the year past: the goals I achieved, and the ones I failed to meet, the major events that surprised me along the way. On New Year’s Day, I wrote down my expectations for the year to come: what I hope to accomplish, my goals and dreams. The process reminds me how swiftly the time has flown.
Time waits for no one. We live it, and we measure it. We try to capture the moments with videos and photos, but the time continues to fly. By the time I write this sentence, and by the time you read it, the moment of the writing, and the moment of the reading is gone, never to return. Every moment of every day, week, month and year, time marches on.
We can remember what was and we suspect that somewhere in the universe the past still exists, just as we experienced it. We can imagine the future, but have no way of knowing what it holds. Only the present is ours, and it slips quickly through our grasp to join the memories of our past. It is the mark of our mortality. We are prisoners and servants of time. No measure of wealth can restrain it. No power on earth can contain it.
Our mad dash to get ahead, to climb the ladder of success, to add to our possessions, to get to our destination faster are symptoms of our mortality. We know that our time is limited. There are only so many hours in the day, and so many days in a lifetime.
The Bible agrees with this sense of mortality. Ecclesiastes says, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens, a time to be born and a time to die.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2). And again, “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)
Only God is beyond time. He is the great “I AM.” He has no beginning and no end. Past, present and future are alike to Him. John wrote of Jesus, saying, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3). Jesus said, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” (John 8:58).
God invites us to transcend time and enter into His immortality. Jesus said, “I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish.” (John 10:28). “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me will live, even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.” (John 11:25-26).