Does Time Control You?

Date: February 26, 2024

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).


Probably no other generation in all history has so been its captive.  It’s called time, and your schedule and life are controlled by its inexorable power.  Yet few people actually understand what it is.  “What is time?” asked the late Nobel Laureate, Richard Feynman.  He voiced his own uncertainty, saying, “We physicists work with it every day, but don’t ask me what it is.  It’s just too difficult to think about.”

“Ask six people to explain time today,” writes John Bouslough, “and, like the six blind men describing an elephant, you may get six answers.  A physicist might say time is one of the two basic building blocks of the universe, the other being space. For a clockmaker, time is the tick tock of his handiwork.  For a science‑fiction fan it is the fourth dimension.  A biologist sees time in the internal clocks that keep plants and animals in sync with nature.  For a banker, it is money….”

The retired Director of Time Services at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., Gernot Winkler said that “we have given more attention to measuring time than to anything in nature,” yet he says, “…time remains an abstraction, a riddle that exists only in our minds.”

From the beginning of creation, men and women have thought of time as a straight line, or as an endless stream or river, and each person begins his journey on that river at birth, and then dies without giving much thought to where the river of time began or to whence it flows.

Slightly more than 300 hundred years ago (1687), Sir Isaac Newton said that time is absolute.  It “flows equably without relation to anything external,” he wrote.  Then in 1905, Albert Einstein shattered traditional ideas about time by saying that it is effected by the motion of the observer, and his concepts added a new dimension to space itself.

Some scientists question whether time, as we know it, exists on any other planet (an interesting thought), but we do know that for us mortals on earth, time is the essence of life.

One of the reasons that science so struggles with time is that time is directly linked to creation, and creation, to the act of God.  The Bible says that time began at creation when the evening and the morning were the first day, and it tells us that time continues until eternity is ushered in when time shall be no more.  The Bible says that time is a hushed parenthesis between the poles of eternity, and in the midst we find ourselves rushing, worrying, striving to get ahead, and to stay on time.  Time can have no lasting significance apart from eternity, and here we encounter God, who makes time meaningful.

When the writer of Scripture pondered the meaning of time, he wrote, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1‑8).  And with those words, it is time to for me to stop.

Resource reading:  Ecclesiastes 3:1-17