Time Keeps on Slippin’, Slippin’, Slippin’

January 11, 2024 | Scott Flovin

2023 flew by. When I was young, people always told me that the years would  go by faster as you get older and I didn’t believe them.I believe them now. It was crazy to me how fast 2023 felt. Maybe it's because it was the first year that has felt “normal” since the pandemic or maybe it’s because I am watching my son grow and change. Whatever the reason, 2023 has been the fastest year I have experienced and it gives me some trepidation for 2024.

2023 flying by made me think about time as a concept and how it is used in pop culture. My favorite video games series, The Legend of Zelda, is no stranger to dealing with time as a theme. Games like Ocarina of Time and Skyward Sword deal with time travel and how the past affects the future. Majora’s Mask, my favorite game in the series, uses a repeating three-day cycle as its main mechanic similar to Bill Murray’s plight in Groundhog Day. The entire twenty game Zelda series takes place on three branching timelines with each game taking place hundreds-to-thousands of years in between one another.

The Zelda series does not just use time as a plot point, but actually explores the consequences of time travel and the passage of time. In Majora’s Mask, as you help all the people, you are struck by the fact that all of your good deeds were for nothing because time restarts after three days. Like Sisyphus, the people you saved would always return to the same danger when the clock reset itself showing the futility of your efforts until you break the cycle. The enigmatic character Sheik in Ocarina of Time comments that “the flow of time is always cruel. Its speed seems different for each person, but no one can change it.” This is said in the wake of the destruction of the world caused by you traveling seven years into the future.

For me, time can feel like both Majora’s Mask and Sheik’s comment. I get up, go to work, come home, play with my son, talk with my wife, go to bed and repeat the cycle the next day. All the while, time keeps on moving faster and faster and there is no stopping it. I wonder where the year has gone all while feeling like I have done nothing but the same monotonous routine over and over again. It can be both overwhelming and depressing at times. I look to 2024 and fluctuate between seeing my Sisyphian life before me and realizing that I will never complete the goals I want to accomplish.

Yet, I take comfort in knowing that I worship a God who cares about time because He created it and saw that it was good (God calls His creation good seven times in Genesis). God is sovereign over time and will not let a minute go “wasted.” Whatever I do in life will be for His glory. I may look at my Sisyphian life with discontent, but God will use it to bring me closer to Him and to serve the people around me. While I might not be able to complete all I wish to, the things I will do will (hopefully) serve God, but also serve my family, my church, and my community. Time may always be moving forward, but God uses that time for a purpose and, ultimately, in the eternity I will spend with Him, I will never see discontentment or cruelty in the passage of time; I will only enjoy the sweetness of the Lord forever (Psalm 34:8).

There is another way that we see the importance of time to God that brings me even more comfort: God entered into time. We recently celebrated Christmas, in which we remember that the God who created time sought to redeem us by entering into the very time He created. It is truly mind blowing to think about the Creator of everything entering into His very creation. Yet, He did so because He loves us.

Yet, He did so on His timetable, not ours. The ancient Israelites awaited their Messiah and I can imagine the flow of time seemed cruel when they waited and waited and He did not come. There were four hundred years of silence between the end of the Malachi and the beginning of Matthew, and yet, God had a plan. God made continuing promises starting with Adam (Genesis 3:15) of a coming Savior that would come from the tribe of Judah and the line of David. However, many sons of David came and went with no Messiah in sight until that fateful day when, in the little town of Bethlehem, Jesus was born. In the game, The Wind Waker, the sage Laruto says that “nothing can stop the flow of time or the passing of generations, but the fate carried within my bloodline endures the ravages of all the years. It survives.” When we look at the genealogies in Matthew (Matthew 1:1-17) and Luke (Luke 3:23-38), we see God fulfilling His promises from generation to generation through millenia. The fate of God’s people truly did “endure the ravages of all the years” because of God’s holy love for us.

But that is not the end of the story. We are in a similar place as the ancient Israelites. It has been almost two thousand years since Christ came and promised to return and He still hasn’t come back yet. When I see the sin of the world, I wonder where God is and when He is going to return to make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Sometimes I wonder if He is ever going to return at all. But that is where hope and trust come in. He faithfully fulfilled His promises in the past and I know He will do so in the future. While I (im)patiently wait for Christ’s second coming, while the flow of time seems cruel in this life, I eagerly await the second life when I will not worry about time.



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