The Ever-Rolling Stream

My mother-in-law posted that meme on her Facebook feed. It’s funny … but less so because it’s true. I had no clever comment to post … so I just posted, “Ugh.”

It reminded me of the question once asked by a famous philosopher, “How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” I never knew what his doctorate was in, but they always called him Dr. Seuss.

You plan and schedule and project, but then you blink, and the year is gone. Isaac Watts put it more seriously in his hymn “O God Our Help in Ages Past.” He wrote,

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.

Watts was paraphrasing Psalm 90 which speaks to the brevity of human life and counsels, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Watts’ imagery of time as a relentless and irrepressible torrent intrigues me. It is too strong to swim against, though many try to stem its tide. Others simply surrender to its inevitability, navigating through life’s stream with all the purpose of a fat camper on a floaty. They are carried swiftly toward eternity, but there is no thought for their Maker … and little thought for their fellow man.

We are powerless against the flow of time but are not powerless in the flow of time. We who know Christ traverse the river with unsinkable hope … a hope that others desperately need. Paul asked the Colossians to pray that he might have the power to proclaim the Gospel clearly … and then he challenged them to use their time to the same end. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” The Good News of Jesus Christ saved you from time’s torrent and for eternity. Throw out a lifeline!

The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Col 4:5–6). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.