“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” -Ephesians 5:15-16
By nature, I’m a reflective person. Bouncing around the recesses of my brain at any given moment are ideas, memories and small contemplations of my existence. I’m a wannabe philosopher or renowned thinker. Emphasis on “wannabe”.
One of the grand schemes I have been processing recently is my perception of the passage of time. Most people, myself included, seem to complain that the years pass by all too quickly. Recalling summers that seemed to last forever in my childhood years, I often am consumed by nostaglia for the past.
A Dave Matthews Band song (don’t laugh) was playing the other day, “Funny how time slips away/Looking at the cracks creeping across across my face/I remember the little kid living in here/He’ll be living in here probably until I’m dead.” (from “The Riff”)
I find myself playing the proverbial numbers game. In 12 years, I will be 45 years old but 12 years ago, I was in college. College does seem like another life that happened eons ago so my mid-forties seem like a decent distance away. How futile this all is? I struggle and wrestle against the hours of the day which confine me.
Although, I can complain about the quick passage of time, recently I experienced 3 months of my life which seemed to slow the pace. During the months immediately succeeding my marriage, I remember talking to my wife about how life seemed to be going at a scaled back pace, which may sound troublesome, but it was actually refreshing. Why did I perceive this?
My theory was that post-wedding, most things about my life became new. My wife and I did not live together before we got married so when we deplaned after the honeymoon, fresh experiences, habits and routines were waiting. Before I was married, I lived by myself in a one bedroom condo for 4 years. (This sounds sad but they were really good years) Living those 4 years, my life was more or less the same as the place of my employment was constant. The time I would leave for work in the morning and the hour I would arrive home were virtually the same. Did my conception of time slow down after my wedding because most of the experiences all around me were fresh, new, exciting?
Then I thought again about childhood. We are learning, growing and experiencing new things about the world all the time as kids. Does this slow down our conception of time?
Obviously, the average life is filled of moments of stagnation and seasons of rapid growth and change. I may perceive time to be slow or moving too quickly for me to capture. The days are evil.
The Apostle Paul wrote that verse and it seems haunting in a profound way. In the passages before this verse, he is encouraging believers in Jesus to put off their old selves (which are sinful patterns and habits that believers should not adopt) and encouraging believers to be children of light, not walking in darkness. His audience, more than likely, are people who had come to believe in Jesus and they were finding their behaviors rapidly changing. Indeed, not just their behavior but their desires.
Then, he essentially asks us to be wise and make the best use of our time because the days are evil. I don’t think the “best use of our time” is necessarily the “carpe diem” phrase we are all familiar with (atleast the hedonistic version). Putting this phrase in the overall context, it’s almost as if Paul is saying that time is running out to do good. The hourglass sand is emptying the opportunity to change ourselves and our communities. So, let me change now. Let me develop new habits in life with Jesus’ kingdom values now. Time is running out to connect with God in ever more profound ways and to allow Him to develop new desires within my heart.
I’ll finish with lyrics from the band, “The Flaming Lips”:
As logic stands you couldn’t meet a man/Who’s from the future/But logic broke as he appeared he spoke/About the future/ We’re not gonna make it /He explained how the end will come /You and me were never meant to be/ Part of the future/All we have is now/ All we’ve ever had was now