I read these words a few weeks ago and have been thinking about them ever since. So often I find myself excusing my inaction/silence with the lie that I can always do/say it later – as if time, though scarce in the context of my mere lifetime, is something wholly in my control. Jesus’ brother James calls such a lifestyle boastful, for our lives are but “a puff of smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes” (James 4:14b NET). How after all, can we speak of tomorrow, when we have no adequate grasp of what tomorrow will bring, let alone the next hour? Maybe it’s because we crave certainty – made evident by people’s firm hold to their political ideologies and theologies – and that desire for certainty manifests itself in a continual practice of envisioning an ideal future; a future that will happen because we tell ourselves it will; a future in which we can eventually say/do the things that we feel convicted to say/do in the present because such a future is convenient.
What if instead of distracting ourselves with contemplation on a future that may or may not be, we lived into the reality that time – that is, the present moment before us – is all we ultimately have? Would we live differently? Would we make decisions, no matter how difficult and costly, with a greater sense of urgency? Would we say the things that need to be said, despite the momentary hurt that it may cause? Would we live a life attuned to our particular purpose instead of endlessly seeking conformity to the norms of the social constructs around us – of what is considered to be cool or successful or extraordinary?
I cannot help but think that we would. And maybe, just maybe, that is the life that we are called to. For whether or not we attribute divinity to the giver of the gift that is time, time remains exactly that.