Life Happens Even If We Don’t Realize It!
If only I knew in my 20s what I know in my 50s!
Time does not wait. Life is moving at a breakneck speed. Years are passing us by so fast, we wonder where they went.
The disturbing thing about this speed of life is that we hardly realize it until we hit 50 or more. Some realize it at about 40, and some never realize it at all.
Because time is a part of creation, it has to grow older as does everything that is created. We have been allotted a certain number of years and how soon they vanish. Therefore, for this fast disappearing time to be meaningful, it must grow older in the light of timelessness or eternity.
Similarly, for the temporal life to be meaningful; it must grow older in the light of eternal life promised by the one who died and rose again from the dead. Jesus of Nazareth is the only person who died and rose again from the dead, breaking the bondage of time over this life in our current human history. It is in this context that the Bible says; “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Because time is growing older, we see changes all around us. Starting with our bodies, everything around us is affected by the passage of time. Our own personality evolves over these few scores of years. In our 20s and 30s, we only think of conquering the world around us. In our 40s and 50s, we come to realize that we can’t conquer anything at all, not even our own self. In our 60s and 70s, we start to pay attention to eternity because the futility of the desire to conquer the time and the world around us becomes staggeringly clear.
But such a realization in the 70s might become a too little too late. Had such a realization come in our 20s, life could have taken a very different direction and the old age could have become a fruitful reaping of what we have sown over the decades.
Just as my body tells me that I have entered a period of my life in which I won’t be able to do what I could have easily done in my 20s and 30s, the condition of my physical location also tells me so much about the changes that have taken place over those years I have left behind.
These pictures (I took them today) are taken from the rooftop of Hope Church in Kathmandu. 22 years ago, this church building was the tallest in the area. From the rooftop, we could see far and wide of the farmland all around it. There was a small stretch of a street with small houses on either side. The population was a few thousand people in this locality. Today, Hope Church building is dwarfed by many tall buildings and there is not a single empty plot left in this huge area. The population has grown almost a 1000%. The place is unrecognizable now from what it was 22 years ago. However, these 22 years don’t seem a lot to me because it is as if a few years ago we were digging the foundation of this building where there were no such buildings.
In order to realize the impact of this change and the passage of time, I have to step outside of my own historical experiences. I have to remove myself from the self to the other in order to see it from the outside.
In the same way, we need to step outside of ourselves to see how the passage of time is affecting us; how the passage of time is leaving us behind and we are oblivious. I think this is what Socrates means when he says “an unexamined life is not worth living.”
One day death is going to knock on our door. Will we answer the door with joy or sadness? If we have lived this temporal life in the light of eternity, I think we can answer the knock on the door with joy. But if we have neglected to think about eternity and were so busy in conquering the time and world around us; if we were so busy to live for the material existence only, death’s knock on the door will be a terrifying experience.
Christian view of life is such a wonderful way to face these fleeting years in this world. The Bible pictures our physical life as a sojourn, a pilgrimage, a journey with a destination. However, because life is just a journey does not mean it is not important, or it can’t be meaningful. In fact, each step towards our destination ought to be a joyful experience, a meaningful experience, not just the destination. Just as time can be only meaning if it is viewed from the light of eternity, so our temporal life has meaning in the light of eternal life.
Living in the light of eternity makes our every temporal experience something to be celebrated and memorable. The changes in our bodies, the changes in our relationships, the changes in our physical surroundings; all of these become the signposts of our arrival to our destination which is beyond description from this side of time.