I hold the wrist watch in the palm of my hand reverently.
It had lain among a clutter of reunion pins, pens, hankies, and postcards, the metal wristband twisted and broken. I wind the watch, and it responds with a rhythmic beat as the second hand sweeps beneath the scratched crystal. Grime and grease is caked in the crevices of the wristband, a testimonial to hours spent repairing cars. I wonder what mishap disfigured the band, rendering it useless.
A tear falls.
My uncle has no need for the watch anymore. His season of measurable time is over.
He’s entered the glory of eternity with his Saviour.
We say that at funerals: Our loved one has entered eternity.
Yet, eternity has already been planted in the heart of man. *
My uncle knew nothing of electronic devices that would help him overlap commitments and schedule his life. He just looked at his watch. It reminded him to take someone who abided by one of those technological wonders out for breakfast, or that it was time to swing around Bud’s place to change the oil in the Chevy, as he’d promised. Or to get me from the airport. That was always his way.
The clock on the wall chimes, as it has every fifteen minutes for hours, for days, and it seems the music rings out sooner than every quarter hour. I’m mindful of the insistent tune marking the time, like notches on a stick, days that can never be retrieved, at the same time flowing relentlessly to the brink, to the end of numbered days.
We are resolute about filling our days with busy-ness, assuming that the busier we are, the more satisfied we will be, then finding ourselves in a predicament of needing to save time in order to get everything done. But time cannot, will not be reserved. It continues to surge onward. The irony is we will immediately devise more activities to fill the newly emptied places in our schedules.
Ecclesiastes tells us there is a time for everything. Or is it actually saying there is time for each milestone of life - and a long enough season for its honouring and fulfillment.
There will be a time for death, but there will also be time enough for the bereaved to take grieving to its thorough completion. Our times of rejoicing should be genuine celebrations, not a mere afternoon’s worth, but a week, a year, perhaps a lifetime of delight and purposeful exultation.
The building of a relationship may be savoured by driving the backwoods of unexplored territory instead of frantically racing between drive-through gratifications or maybe dismissing the experience altogether. Sometimes, our loving Father gives us a taste of heaven and for heaven through people on earth. Cherish them, love them deeply. And conversely, when all is said and done, some relationships should be gently set down when they’ve reached their dignified or sensible conclusions.
We live in eternity.
Ought we not behave as though we do?
The Great I AM, who spans my past, present, and future at one and the same time, from beginning to end, sees, heals, reaches, and touches simultaneously. When I can grasp this truth, though I cannot understand it, I can find comfort when I question, “Where was God when...?” God is not bound by time, the chiming clock, or by my finite years. He’s already present, already providing, already applying the balm to the hurts and needs of the present and the future, although I may not see it in this decade or the next, or even while I breathe.
My uncle considered the here-and-now his eternity, and he invested time generously in the lives of others for their eternity, for my eternity. He didn’t try to save time; rather, he took time, even as he fished at dawn, walked for ice cream, or let tomatoes ripen on the vine. It was his priority.
Now his worn, broken watch lies in my hand. The inner workings continue to move faithfully, steadfastly, unhampered by the outer trappings of the useless steel band and the marred crystal.
As my uncle does, I chose to live in eternity.
* * *
* Ecclesiastes 3: 11 (NLT)
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