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Sunday Reflections: Tempus Fugit

Take time to read this column about time.

By Rev. Ben Black

Time is the most precious commodity we have.

We only have a moment once and there is no promise that another will follow it.  The ways we spend our days, weeks, and months can never be undone. The 45 minutes that I spent this morning sitting on the couch, watching the end of "Back to the Future," will never return to me. 

With every second comes a decision set-up by the one preceding it. What I find incredible, is that even though time is the foundation of everything I do, I tend to value the world around me in terms of "stuff." Typically, I look at time as something to be raced rather than an asset in itself. 

We describe our relationship to time with phrases like: "I'm late," "That took too long," "We can't wait for that," "My, how the years went by," etc. Time has become a measurement for stuff. 

We think of paying for housing in terms of when in the month our rent/mortgage is due, in the same way we look at our cars in terms of the year they were built and how much longer we'll be paying on them. How many years have we been in school or at the same job?  How long have we been dating or married?  How many weeks until your baby is due? Time is not seen as an asset in itself but a marker for everything else.

Then time stops.

"You have three weeks to live."

There may be no phrase that is more dreaded than the one that reminds us that our time is limited. It is in those moments that we realize how precious these quick seconds are truly are. The sad reality is that for most of us by the time we realize how important our time is, it is already too late. It is impossible to redo missed opportunities. It is a tragic thing to sit in a hospital room with a dying person who is terrified not of death but of their regrets. 

Death will come to us all, and for some of us it will be too soon. I realize this is becoming gloomy, but I do not mean it to be so! 

Right now we are alive. We are breathing air and we have choices to make. 

My challenge to you would be to change the way you look at your time. Your life is a blessing. Every second is not a countdown. Stop thinking in terms of appointments, anniversaries, and dates that symbolize a race against father time. 

Instead, make the most of the time you have. Invest in relationships. Take the time to enjoy nature. Ask the tough question, "What is the meaning in my life?"

How you answer that will dictate your time. It will also dictate your regrets. We know life is short. May yours be one filled with joy that can only come from above as use our time to love our neighbor.

The Rev. Ben Black is pastor of Forest Hills Presbyterian Church.

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