The clock never stops ticking. Nothing but God is more persistent than the passing of time. You can't stop it or slow it. It is sovereign over all human resistance. It will not be hindered or altered or made to cease. It is utterly oblivious to young and old, pain and pleasure, crying and laughing. Nothing, absolutely nothing, makes a difference to the unstoppable, unchangeable tick, tick, ticking of time. Anna Akhmatova the Russian poet, said that war and plague pass, but no one can cope with "the terror that is named the flight of time."
I have an unusual habit when I go to bed. After Noel and I pray, I crawl into bed and situate myself on my left side, facing the red glow of the radio-alarm-clock numbers on the bedside table. I pull my hands up in front of me at about face level and wait for a few minutes in stillness, usually praying silently with gratitude for the wife who lies behind me, and for my children, and for the ministry God has given me. Then I take my right hand and curl my fingers around my left wrist and find my pulse. I watch the red minute number until it changes, and then I begin counting. One . . . two . . . three . . . When the number changes, and one minute has passed, I stop.
I began this peculiar habit out of the vain notion that, if my heart rate were very slow, from good exercise (or genes), it may mean that my heart is healthy and I will live long. Such is the silliness of human thought. The effect has been otherwise. Now, as I count the beats, it is not the rate that fixes my attention, but the succession. One beat, then another, then another, on through the night, about 21,000 times while I sleep. The effect of this little exercise is that I fall asleep most nights, lulled by the steady rhythm of my heart, and with a sober sense of my very fragile existence. Any one of those beats could be my last. I cannot will to make my heart beat one more time. If it stops, it stops. I and my time on earth are over. "If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."
Time is precious. We are fragile. Life is short. Eternity is long. I enter my month-long writing leave with a sense that every minute counts. O, to be a faithful steward of the breath God has given me. Three texts resound in my ears: 1) "Redeem the time" (Ephesians 5:16); 2) "It is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy" (1 Corinthians 4:2); 3) "His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Surely God means for our minutes on earth to count for something significant. Paul said, "In the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain" (Philippians 2:16). In the same way, I have good hope from the Lord that my "labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Would you pray for me while I write? God will show you what to pray. I will be working as hard as I can to complete "Book Two" of A Godward Life. That is the main goal. If I finish that, I have two other projects I would pursue. The Elders have commissioned me to pursue this writing as part of our mission, and my responsibility, to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.
I will be away April 5-May 3. The pastoral staff will be preaching and teaching while I am gone. Support them. Minister to each other. Love the lost. Give generously. We will dig back into Romans on May 9 when I return, if the Lord wills. "My times are in Your hand" (Psalm 31:15).
Counting on your prayers, as always,