© Wendy Clark, 2023
Tomorrow I will be 59. How is that possible? Wasn’t I just 29 a few days ago? How did the last 30 years go by so quickly and at the same time seem a lifetime ago?
The incredible passage of time. When I was young, older people told me about it. Some warned, some lamented, some kindly informed. My mom mused, saying that she felt like she was “still twenty inside.”
But I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t conceive of it. Difficult times seemed long. Time seemed slow. Looking back I realize that sense of time was a persuasive illusion. GOD, in His Word had told me otherwise:
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more” (Psalm 105:15-16).
I believed Him, but I didn’t quite understand how that could be. And then I began to see.
The moments came, and the moments passed, and then they were so quickly gone. I learned that if I wanted to slow down the bullet train of time, zooming me through life, I should stop and savor. Others before me knew it. Walter Hagen wrote back in the 1960s, “Don’t hurry. Don’t worry. And be sure to smell the flowers along the way,” and people started saying, “Stop and smell the roses,” and as I started to sense the incredible passage of time, I did. I stopped.
I learned to enjoy the moment, to be present in it, to pause and make memories that I could carry with me in my mind into the future. To never miss the moment of now in favor of reaching for some moment in the future.
So I ask, “GOD, what do you want me to do today? I want to please You.” Sometimes the answer involves planning and preparation that will take me into tomorrow, next week, next year, but always the answer involves paying attention to the people around me and walking in wisdom here and now.
I’m convinced that it is by GOD’s design that I become increasingly aware of the incredible passage of time and the brevity of this life. Seasons come and seasons go. In some places they are more difficult to perceive (like when I was growing up in Southern California), but here in Idaho, it’s not easy to overlook the pile of snow that reaches almost up to my back window.
Experience has taught me that the snow will melt, spring will come, mild and green and blooming; summer will follow, bright and warm, with long, full days; autumn will usher in beautiful colors and milder temperatures, and the days will start to get shorter once again. And then–I will be looking out my back window at the snow, the pile lower or higher, and I will be another year older.
A long yawn or an intense sneeze, and I might miss it. That’s how it feels at this time of my life.
Wendy at 29, pregnant with her first child, uncomfortable, but ready–she could not sense it, this incredible passage of time. She didn’t know.
I don’t have a sense of how much more time I have ahead of me. Do I have 30 more years? More? Less? A lot less? One of my grandfathers died in his early 60s, another in his 80s, one grandmother in her 70s, but another at 52; my mom lived to be almost 80, and my dad died at 90.
How much time do I have? It is not a question that I concern myself with much. The amount of time seems far less important than the choices I make in using it.
I see the incredible passage of time written on my face and in the faces of my husband and grown children, and I’m sometimes puzzled by the changes that seem accelerated. At the same time, I recognize GOD’s gentle nudge. This world is not my home. Today is passing. I won’t waste it.
And perhaps ironically, I feel great peace in knowing that this is true.