Why Does Time March on Without Our Approval?

In sporting events, referees can blow their whistle and stop a game any time they consider it necessary. They have the “power” to bring two competing teams to a screeching halt. We, on the other hand, cannot summon anything near that kind of control on the playing field of life. We may try to call a “time out” on some aspect of the day we don’t approve or blow the whistle on something we think unfair but it does nothing to alter the way in which the day continues to proceed. Time, we discover, marches on to the beat of its own drum. It remains indifferent to our concerns or objections.

Believe it or not, we’d make a terrible mess of things if we refereed life like a sporting event. We’d call all sorts of “time outs” on issues that seemed important at the time but weren’t actually necessary. We’d make a string of questionable “calls” and demand endless “replays” on episodes in our lives that didn’t warrant the time or effort. Instead of improving or enhancing the flow of life we’d slow it down and disrupt its orderly progression.

Fortunately, we can’t stop life from moving forward. It has an orderly, necessary progression much like the changes of season. An unseen force of Divine energy moves this world through the cycles of spring, summer, fall and winter. Each season performs its own vital use and then sets the stage for the one that follows. On a spiritual level, we go through a similar cycle of “seasons,” year in, year out. This is true for us on earth and continues to be the case in the spiritual world. In the work, Heaven and Hell, we’re taught that “there is a sequence of these states like the varied states of light and shade, of heat and cold, of morning, evening, and night, day after day like that in the world, with unceasing variety throughout the year” (Heaven and Hell 155). And just as no region on this planet is ever “stuck” in one season (no matter how extreme the climate) neither are we ever “stuck” in one state of mind.

Life would become dull and boring if we didn’t go through changes of state, if time stood still. In fact, we would undergo a kind of mental torture if we remained “locked” in one state of mind, no matter how happy or perfect it seemed at the time. The angels say even the delights of heaven “would gradually lose their flavor if they were in them continually” (Heaven and Hell 158).

While the march of time may trigger anxious concerns in us, like getting older or regretting lost opportunities, let us not lose sight of the bigger picture. The orderly progression of time mirrors the Lord’s unceasing desire to move us forward and upward for only in Him do we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). And ultimately, it’s by “alternations between delight and lack of delight that our perception and sense of what is good becomes more exquisite” (Heaven and Hell 158).