A Sad Misunderstanding of Time

by | Jul 23, 2023 | Faithfulness, Priorities, Time

“Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing in your sight. Surely everyone stands as a mere breath.”

(Psalm 39:4-5 NRSV)

I almost blew it! My first year at university was nearly a disaster. Midway through the first month away from home, I was introduced to a temptation that became an addictive drug in my veins. The more that I tried it, the more addicted that I became! No, it’s not true confession time from a reformed addict — because I am still addicted! I became addicted to reading, which would have been fine if it had anything to do with my overwhelming course load, but no, I was addicted to Tolkien — specifically The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings in all three volumes — and anything else that I could get my hands on. And I read. And the time flew by. And I continued to read, night and day, day and night.

There is a riddle in The Hobbit that saved me from blowing all my time on reading and losing my first semester altogether. Here it is:

“This thing all things devours:
Birds, beast, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.”

From The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I got it right away, but Bilbo Baggins, the Tolkien character, took a little longer. The answer? Time.

R.S. Thomas’ poem, The Brighter Field, captures this remarkably well:

“Life is not hurrying on to a receding future nor hankering after an imagined past. It is the turning aside like Moses to the miracle of the lit bush, to a brightness that seemed as transitory as your youth once, but is the eternity that awaits you.”

The Brighter Field by R.S. Thomas

We need a road before us and a way opening that leads us ever nearer to the heart of God and the way of our Lord Jesus Christ — a road that may lead us past burning bushes and revelations and wonders unsurpassed. There is much that reminds me of the road less travelled in this concept:

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth…”

The Road Less Travelled by Robert Frost

We might dearly wish to travel more than one road at a time, but that is not the destiny that awaits us. Life is about choice, about making the decisions of the day that transform the day and take us to “God-knows-where”. And that is precisely where we want to go — to where God knows and to where God wants us, and to that place to which we have been called from the beginning of time.

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

The Road Less Travelled by Robert Frost

A day awaits us ready to be filled with all the fullness of Christ. It is our time to follow the road less travelled, the way of Jesus Christ.

Prayer: Lord, help us this day to embrace the time that You give us, time to find the road that You place before us, time to follow the One Who is the way, the truth, and life itself. Amen.

Copyright © 2022, by Kenn Stright <kennethstright@yahoo.ca>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca .
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

Reprinted from PresbyCan with author’s permission


A Sad Misunderstanding of Time