Just a Second
December 31, 2008 was a long day. It was one second longer than every other day of the year. The International Earth Rotation and Reference Systems Service determined that the earth’s rotation is gradually slowing, while the atomic clocks used to mark official time around the world have maintained a constant time. The discrepancy between the “official” time and time based on the earth’s rotation had grown large enough that regulators agreed to add one second to what is considered official time. So if you felt more tired than usual on New Year’s Day, maybe it wasn’t because you stayed up to bring in the New Year; maybe that extra second was more than your body could handle.
In one of the poems that we have in the Bible, the writer talks about the shortness of life, then says, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). I don’t think he’s talking about atomic clocks. I think he’s reminding us that we need to recognize that life here is finite; we build up seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc., and come to feel that our time will never come to an end. Yet we need to recognize that we are not immortal, that one day our lives will be over. According to this psalm, which is attributed to Moses, we won’t be able to have a heart of wisdom until we recognize our own mortality.
Earlier in the same poem, Moses writes: “For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night” (Psalm 90:4). And he also writes: “The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). That’s what he means about learning to number our days. Our lives are typically 70 or 80 years, yet to God a thousand years is the same as one day. Time means nothing to an eternal God.
That eternal God offers to share eternity with us. We can settle for 70 years, more or less. Or we can let God give us a life that has no end, a life in which the days needn’t be numbered because they are infinite. Man can add a second to one day; God can add an eternity to every day. If you’d like to share in this eternity, but don’t know how, I’d like to talk to you about it.
Grace and peace,