Stuck in a Moment
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away.
Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, even there was wickedness, and in the place of righteousness, even there was wickedness. I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for there is a time for every matter and for every work. I said in my heart with regard to the children of man that God is testing them that they may see that they themselves are but beasts. For what happens to the children of man and what happens to the beasts is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and man has no advantage over the beasts, for all is vanity. All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?
A Brief Definition of Time
So, what is time? Let’s ask GOOGLE.
what clocks measure (attr. to physicists Albert Einstein, Donald Ivey, and others)
what prevents everything from happening at once (physicist John Wheeler and others)
a linear continuum of instants (philosopher Adolf Grünbaum)
a certain period during which something is done (Medical Dictionary)
a continuum that lacks spatial dimensions (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present and future regarded as a whole (Oxford Dictionary)
the measured or measurable period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues (Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary)
the continuous passage of existence in which events pass from a state of potentiality in the future, through the present, to a state of finality in the past (World English Dictionary)
a continuous, measurable quantity in which events occur in a sequence proceeding from the past through the present to the future (Science Dictionary)
the measured or measurable period during which an action, process or condition exists or continues (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)
the dimension of the physical universe that orders the sequence of events at a given place (McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology)
a non-spatial system in which events appear to happen in irreversible succession (WordSmyth Dictionary)
the inevitable progression into the future with the passing of present events into the past (Wiktionary)
the indefinite continued progress of existence and events in the past, present, and future regarded as a whole (Google)
The past may be defined as those events which occurred before a given point in time, events which are usually considered to be fixed and immutable. It can be accessed through memory or, since the advent of written language, recorded history. The study of the past, in particular as it relates to humans, is called history.
The present may be defined as the time associated with the events perceived directly and for the first time, i.e. not as a recollection of the past or as a speculation of the future. It is equivalent to the word “now”, and is the period of time located between the past and the future. Just how long a period of time the present incorporates, however, depends on the context, and can vary from an infinitesimal or durationless moment to a day to a whole era, depending on how it is being used.
The future is the indefinite time period after the present moment. It is the portion of the projected time line that is anticipated to occur, and may be considered as potentially infinite in its extent, or as circumscribed and finite, depending on the context. While some people may see the future as fixed and predetermined, most see it as essentially unknown (and perhaps unknowable), and open to many different possibilities and permutations.
And look at that, seems we are almost out of time already. Time really does fly when you are having fun I guess. But why focus on time on a Sunday afternoon when we are supposed to be learning about a spiritual significance of some sort, some type of practical application for our lives?
Let’s start with my week. I work three jobs. I clean pools in the mornings. I am blessed to be able to have a job that provides for my family. It’s hot, but I find that I am able to put a roof over my family’s heads, that I can place food on the table, clothe and take care of the base needs of those that I love. I also market – I love to market and create from an artistic point of view – I’ve probably made websites for more than a few of you gathered here today. Along with those two jobs, I serve as a pastor here at Reunion Community. So this week didn’t seem to have enough time – there was pool cleaning in the depths of Hell in the Phoenix summer, there was a direction relaunch with a company that I am the director of marketing for, there were two additional website launches, my daughter’s swim lessons, VBS as TSB (Todd S Bookout or Totally Snow Boarding), and a funeral – oh yeah, and preparing for and preaching today. Enter conflict.
God, in his infinite wisdom, chose to place creation within the confines of time. God is eternal.
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
You return man to dust
and say, "Return, O children of man!"
For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
Time began with creation. An infinite power brought forth all life and in an instant, time as we know it, came into being. We measure it, we keep track of it, and we attempt to corral and control it, placating our lives and our consciousness’ accordingly. However, many of us fall subject to the currency of time – memory.
Memory – the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms
Our memory drives the mechanism of our body and soul. Our collected consciousness determines our eternity. It is our past, it is our present, and it forecasts and prophecies our future. That’s a heavy statement, so allow me to bring it down to us today.
Our minds are intricately created with the ability to place significance upon certain events and interactions. Not only that, the concept of eternity is placed, we are told, within the heart of man. The heart is an entirely different sermon to jump into, however I have taught on this subject before. Our hearts systematically fuel our bodies with blood and oxygen (life) and effect each and every aspect of our self, including our intellect and consciousness.
We are aware. We were made to be aware. We were made to seek out a Creator that fashioned this one portion of his creation, man, in His image. And in so doing, God formed a being that can tap into the complexity of the manipulation of time. Our emotive, artistic, even our analytic capacity allows for this manipulation. Yes, our physical bodies travel a linear path that we have come to define as time. However, our minds, and by proxy our souls, are free to navigate space and time at will.
Know that you were created by an infinite Creator
For thus says the One who is high and lifted up,
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
"I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly,
and to revive the heart of the contrite.
Know that you were created in that Creator’s image
Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
Realize the significance of your thoughts
But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts?
Don’t be afraid to be in a moment
Don’t get stuck in a moment
Embrace your moments
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
We lose those that we love
We make mistakes
We happen upon life altering realizations (epiphanies)
We maintain our regrets
We doubt and we worry
And we find ourselves here, today, at this point in time. And we know individuals who cannot escape the moments in time that torment their souls. Their minds and hearts (our minds and hearts) use the currency of time, our memory, to navigate to and marinate in (sorry for the Steveism) the things that diminish our existence. So many people are stuck. Stuck in a moment when they were bullied. Stuck in a moment that they were heartbroken. Stuck in a moment that they were offended. Stuck in a moment of self-doubt, self-hatred, self-deprecation. Stuck. And we remain imprisoned in our memories, outside of linear time, often times in darkness.
Be aware in your moments – those past, those current, and those perceived for the future. Embrace the light and life that is Jesus Christ and the truth that was thrust upon an expecting and desperate world. Self-sacrificial Love. A Love for God, and a Love for one another. The pursuit of truth that can set you, and more importantly others, free from the imprisonment of contemplated eternity. Hell is very real every day for those stuck in moments that they can’t get out of, moments that lack knowledge and acceptance of a Creator that desperately Loves and desires them.
We are called to be disciples of Jesus’ Love. To navigate the complexities of life and time and memory. To KNOW God, To KNOW that we were created by God, To KNOW the significance of our thoughts and to embrace moments – moments of doubt and pain and loss, as well as moments of elation and joy and fulfillment.