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Time and Times: Day 4

What is has already been and what will be has been before.
Eccles. 3:15

In the narrative of Scripture, we see a meaningful history: the ways God interacts in love and justice with His creatures, the unique, even surprising, ways He uses people and nations to accomplish His plan, including the final outcome for people who choose both for and against Him. Because of this, we can find our place in the narrative and apply its lessons to our life.

However, there is another way to look at time and it is actually a very popular view, held by philosophers, scientists and millions of regular folk, both religious and non-. It is cyclical time. In the cyclical view, time is an illusion; it has been nowhere and is going nowhere. It is a series of cycles--e.g. the seasons, celestial rotations, birth and death, war and peace, famine and plenty, etc.-- in which all living beings are inevitable participants. The challenge is to find one’s place and the meaning of life in these impersonal and pitiless cycles. 

Of course, “meaning” is a meaningless term: Resignation is more appropriate. As far as god goes—who he is and what his plan might be? Not much help there. For some, god in the inescapable power of the cycle itself. To others, their experience of deity is what brings a measure of beauty or peace-- like a spring morning or a child’s laugh--amid the grind. Finally, there is the god-in-me crowd. Since they can’t verify any reality outside their own experience or any purpose outside their plan, they must conclude, as the old poem says, “I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul.” (“Invictus” W.E. Henley). Hard to know if that view is more liberating or lonely. I would guess the latter.

In the beauty of the seasons, the opportunities and challenges of each stage of life, Christians see a God among His Creation. When we look into His Word, we find that, indeed, is the plan (Psalm 19:1) and the promise (Heb. 13:6) from the God who is Alpha and Omega and everything in between.

From that we can look at our seasons and our days with confidence that even in the hardest times, they are part of an eternal narrative that will end well, really well.

Nancy Shirah    

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