I have known for months now that my watch was missing. I don't remember where I put it or the last time I had worn it. Of course, this is less of a hassle considering almost everyone now carries around a time-keeping device in their pocket or purse, also known as a cellular phone.
We were riding back across the state of Georgia on Sunday afternoon, returning from the wedding weekend of my cousin Wade. We were in some South Georgia metropolis - Odum, Surrency, Graham, or Chauncey - when I went rummaging through the contents of the console between the two front seats of Julie's GMC Acadia. There, beneath some CDs, sunglasses case, and enough pens and pencils to rewrite the IRS tax laws, my fingers happened upon a metallic object. What was lost, had been found. Glory, hallelujah.
I marveled at my watch upon returning it to its rightful place upon my wrist. After a few moments, I took note of something I had missed in the hoopla of finding this timepiece now reappeared; the hands were only a minute off. It was then I was struck by the duration of my watch's absence! I had misplaced it before the clocks had fallen back in November, because it was again showing the correct time after they had sprung forward this past March.
Back in 1818, Washington Irving wrote a short-story about a similar occurrence of being out of sight and out of mind for a period of time. It is the tale of Rip Van Winkle. Asleep for twenty years, he returns to find the scale of tumultuous change that occurred over the twenty years that the story encompasses. Rip discovers that life has passed on without his presence. Could you imagine? There are worse things than being left behind, though. Waiting on time to pass slowly or dreading as it flies by too quickly can be equally tough.
The opening verses of Genesis are literally marked by the passage of one day after another. Time is woven into the story of Creation. We are told in Ecclesiastes 3 that "for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven." And, some of the last words of Jesus to his disciples before he ascends back into heaven in Acts 1 are for them to wait a few days for the Holy Spirit to come, but know that the exact timing of events in the future is a mystery kept by God. We live with time, but we also wonder about time.
My world seems driven by time right now. How much time is needed to pack? When will this meeting happen, or these answers come? I cannot believe we only have so many days left before saying good-bye. Yet, however distant answers seem or uncertain the future might be, I know the timing will work out right in the end. Psalm 31 says, "I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hand." I believe this promise is offered to packing preachers and all who call on the name of the Lord. May God's grace and peace be on us all, Amen.