I sat with some friends as we waited to officially start a meeting, when one glanced at the other’s watch and said, “Wow! I really like your watch, it has such big numbers!” We commented how our sight is diminishing as we get older and how nice it is to be able to tell time with ease.
In the Bible, the author of the book of Ecclesiastes, examines the meaning of life and conducts an experiment to find the best way to live life to the fullest. Most likely, the author was Solomon who had at his disposal every conceivable opportunity to embrace the pleasures and challenges of life. He pursued pleasures, riches, work, knowledge, experiences and even folly. What was Solomon’s conclusion about one’s life in relation to all our pursuits? He says it is all “Meaningless” as things are temporary and nothing lasts forever. How does Solomon propose one should live? Solomon says the best way to live is to understand the reach of time and how to live in a relationship with God. In Ecclesiastes 3, we see “ There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” He then contrasts life’s experiences, “A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…” (Ecclesiastes 3:2). In verses 1-8, Solomon outlines 14 opposite activities to show that there is a proper time for all human activity. We spend our days living between these poles. Solomon then says something important, “He (God) has also set eternity in the human heart;” Ecclesiastes 3:11). While many life’s events can be hard, it is crucial to see how important it is to have a right perspective on time. Solomon’s challenge is to understand time in relationship to how we live daily. If we understand how limited our time is, we can hopefully see how important it is to live each day the way God intends it. Solomon says this is the way we can understand and redeem time. Then the treadmill of life is no longer is “meaningless” but an invitation to experience walking with God and doing his work. Our challenge, like looking at a watch, is to see the best way to use our time on earth and to redeem time daily in all the seasons of life.
Pastor Frank Alioto works with spiritual care at Central Peninsula Hospital and is the Senior Chaplain with Central Emergency Services.