Time and Truth: Meditations on Time

By Chris Quah

Worry Worry Worry.

Time and Worry come together.

One of the smallest steps to self-denial is found in loving others; to overcome selfishness.

Time. Time is what causes decay in the universe.

Day by day we see the effects of time on everything. Colours begin to fade, clothes become torn and old, machines begin to wear out and bodies begin to age. The older we get, the more we realise how short of time we really are, and that we are coming nearer and nearer to the end of our own time. There is nothing that we can do to stop the flow of time, no matter how much men may try and strive.

The Bible says rightly that we should accept this reality and allow ourselves to grow in maturity, but this does not stop us from being anxious. We worry about the future and we feel regret for the past. We even fret about the present, unhappy about the things we do not have, or do not own yet. 

All these things have one thing in common. They are part of the construct of the mind. The mind, and our imagination, is the only thing that does not follow the proper flow of time. In it, we can relive past regrets and mistakes. We can also use it to imagine what life would be in the present if we only had what others have, as seen on social media or on the television. We fret and fear about the worse that might come, and we create different scenarios that are yet to happen. We jump back and forth, from the past to the future, in our minds.

However, unlike a video game, we cannot change the past or determine the future. Our past and future is like the plot in a book where the story has been set and written. We are the characters that can only go back to reflect on what has passed and slowly follow the next chapter according to how the author wants it to be. When we realise this reality then we can realise how not in control we are. Only the Author is in control.

It is because of this human consciousness that we have a concept of time. This makes humans greater than animals, but at the same time we are burdened with fears and worries that animals do not have. No dog or cat spends sleepless nights thinking what they may eat or drink tomorrow. They are satisfied with what they have today.

Even Jesus said plainly to not worry about life, or about what you will eat or drink, or the clothes that you will wear. In Matthew 6:25-34, He pointed out that the birds in the air who never worry are still fed by the Heavenly Father. We as humans are much more valuable than them.

By worrying, can we really add a single hour to our lives? Yet we worry so much about the future as though we can determine when or how it should be. Flowers do not worry yet they are more beautifully dressed than we are. Animals do not worry about what to eat in the future because they eat only when they are hungry. They have no worries of hunger in the future. They take things as they come. It is the same with little children; they have no worries about the future.

It we think about this issue more deeply, one will realise that we can no more control time than a boat can control the current on the sea it sits on. Yet humans have a bad habit of overthinking about things that have either passed or are yet to be. We cannot change the past, yet we choose to let the past control us and make us make decisions that might be detrimental to our future. At other times, we worry about the future so much that we freeze and take no effort in working towards a better future.

In fact, one of the greatest reasons why people are either chained to the past or trying to procrastinate moving into the future is the question of “What If”. What if I had done this? What if I had done that? What if I do this and this happens? What if I make the wrong decision?

This causes much confusion and a person to live in a way that is neither here nor there, never brave enough to make a choice because of fear of repeating the regret of the past or overthinking a simple step so that it becomes an overreaction that causes us to flee.

So, what does the Bible suggest how we should handle time?

Well, Jesus explains that we should live in the present.

Do not worry about tomorrow as tomorrow has its own worries.

We should be in the present. The now. Because only in the now can we make decisions that will affect tomorrow. And it is in the now, that we can consciously move forward from the past that seems to dictate our present movements.

It is also only in the now that we can seek God and pray. Because as we pray, God can help break us from the regrets and guilts of the past. And it is in the now, that we pray for guidance from Him who can see the future. So, in other words if we really look into this truth, it is only in the present that we can connect to what is eternal.

Through prayer, and focusing our minds on God, we can connect ourselves from this temporary plane of existent to that which is eternal. For beyond this life is a world that does not fade away into memory. It seems to almost be unaffected by time. A castle will never decay there. It will always remain a beautiful castle. Nobody will age. This is the promise from God and Jesus; that there will come a New World free from the constraints of time.

That is a place that lies beyond, in the future, after we leave this time-ravaged body. Yet at the same time we can access it now through communion with God. We can talk to the Eternal One, and He in return is pleased to reward those who seek Him with the gift of daily bread.

Of course, this requires time. Time alone with God. Time that we always think we are running short off. But if we really put things into perspective, just an hour or so with God will help us come to the proper realisation of how time really works, and how we should handle time. Instead of wasting time worrying about the imaginary “What Ifs” God helps us to focus on what will be. They are His promises of Hope and a Future.

If we do not focus on God, our souls will go restless. It will manifest in different ways such as fear, anxiety, worry, and even boredom. Fear, anxiety, and worry because we think we are in control. Boredom because we feel that we are never satisfied with the way we use our time.

When we take even just ten percent of the day and give it to God, He will make us realise how unnecessary all these imaginary constructs of the mind are, and how, by worrying, we become creatures of inaction. With His wisdom, we can face what is to come when it comes, and then you will realise that as we seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness (Matthew 6:34) by spending time with Him, all these other things will be given to us as well.

The little time we have can be maximised to our fullest potential, and not according to our standards which may lead to results that are less than expected, until we try to overachieve and end up in stress. Our time will be maximised just right, the way He wants it. God has already determined our course in life, and we need only to react in the proper way, with a peace that surpasses all understanding.

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