If I had a thousand years, Lord, I would still run out of time…. As I sang the song in worship, my mind wandered, distorted the meaning, and made up extra verses: for Him, for me, for my family, for what I want to do here. But what is the magic in 90 or even 100 years? In comparison to all eternity, it is so short. I would still have sticky notes all over the house about books I wanted to read, or movies to see, or conversations to have with my children. The truth is, no matter how long a life God gives me, I would still run out of time.
Time has always been a mysterious commodity to me. I feel like I have been in a funny dance with it most of my life. Maybe everyone does. In grade school, the hands of the huge black and white wall clock moved painfully slow. Waiting for the bell to go home, I could watch each minute tick away, and it seemed to actually extend my life. Other hours slipped by, almost evaporated, as I held each precious newborn, or savored summer break with my college age child, or helped my mom make strawberry jam by the pickup load.
Such was the case during the surgery to get my pacemaker and internal defibrillator installed. I was fully awake. The nurses had to keep me talking to make sure I didn’t have a stroke. We went in around 2:00 for a two-hour procedure. My head was draped with a sheet, but I could hear everything going on. When they uncovered my head, I glanced at the clock, thinking how quickly it was over. It felt like about 20 minutes, but it was just past 6:30. The procedure proved to be more difficult than they’d anticipated. Over four hours had passed. Time zipped by, even as I struggled to live through it.
Living with a chronic, progressive disease teaches you to appreciate and covet time. I had been deceived (or had deceived myself) into believing that if I pushed it to the back of my mind, my life would somehow have a fuzzy finish line. Like infinity edge pools which are situated so water flows over an edge, producing a visual effect of water with no boundary. The pool seems to go on forever until you get up close and really examine it. Then you see that is actually does end. Life on earth, like the pool, is indefinite but not infinite. Big difference.
Life is a precious expanse that connects Heaven to Heaven. It is not the end, it is not the purpose, it is not the point. But it is what we see and what we know and what we experience. It is so very difficult to look past that edge. Not because we are afraid or do not believe God’s promises, but because we are temporal beings often times in survival mode. The enemy uses that to distract us into eventually, unknowingly, believing that this is all there is; the time you get here is your portion, and no more. That is a lie.
If we believe that this is all there is, we spend our entire lives trying to convince ourselves that we are NOT nearing the edge. That is exhausting and consuming. And it wastes the life we have been given. The key is to acknowledge the edge, and plan for the more that is to come.
Strong, effective medications sometimes approach a zero-sum game. You hear it in pharmaceutical ads on TV, and if you take these meds, you know it firsthand. They give something you need, but take something you want. They might give pain relief, or a life extension, but they might take your hair, or your memory. For heart patients, it is often the energy that is taken, the ability to live a full day. I must sleep about half of my life now. Because of that, I have often complained that time has been taken from me, in hourly doses by the meds, and in chunks of years by the disease.
But I am wrong about that, and deep down I know it. I have already been given all of eternity. The infinity edge pool is actually designed so the edge appears to merge with a larger body of water, such as the ocean. Over the last two years, I have seen the edge of that pool up close and I can no longer ignore that there is an edge. At the same time, I know that the edge is different from the end. Like the effect of that infinity edge pool, my indefinite life here will seamlessly meld with the forever that God’s grace has granted me.
Oh, Lord, in my haste to finish this race well, let me not forget that I can never run out of time. Help me see past the edge, that my indefinite life truly is infinite.