Telling Time


 “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years…” (Genesis 1:14)


The stars keep perfect time. We humans do not.


We might have digital wristwatches and alarm clocks controlled from space. But we just cannot figure out how to make our calendars correct.


We thought we had the answer when we decided that there were 365 days in a year. But that was not quite right. At the end of 365 days there is some time left over. So, we decided to add a day to our calendar every four years. We put that extra day into February. We call that a leap year.


A true year, a solar year—the actual time it takes the earth to complete its orbit around the sun—lasts for 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds. That means that just adding a leap year every four years does not solve the problem. After a while, we would have an extra 25 days (so summer would start in July, not June).


To fix this, the designers of the calendar decided to omit leap years every 400 years.


That helped. But it is still not exact. After 3,300 years, we will still be a full day off.


What does this tell us?


For all our knowledge, and in spite of all of the advances in technology, we still cannot correctly tell time.


That’s humbling news. It should remind us of the great difference between us and the Creator/Savior God. He is perfect, we are not. He is all-wise. We are just beginning to learn.


Time is a gift from our God. At just the right time he sent his Son to rescue us. At some point in time he will end this universe and all clocks will stop because time will stop.


Today we may be counting the time until we return from deployment. We may be counting how many birthdays we have celebrated. We may be counting down the days until we ship out. Some are counting the days until they are released from medical care.


That is only natural. Calendars and watches help us plan and prepare. They are gifts from God.


But we are not the slaves of the timekeepers. Time neither shapes our lives nor controls our destiny. Time is not a power. It is only a measurement.


Beyond time and space is God. He has chosen to have us spend our lifespan not in Abraham’s day, nor at the time of our great-great grandparents—but in the here and now so that we might serve him now. That’s all we need to know.


This is the first month of a new year. It’s a good month to remember that time is in our Lord’s hands. We cannot control it.


We cannot even correctly tell the time.


We pray:

God of might and mercy, in your loving wisdom you have placed us into this time of earth’s history. We are glad to live at a time of modern medicine and modern conveniences. We realize, however, that we face physical and spiritual dangers greater than those who have lived before us. Shield us with your care and strengthen us with your power so that we may spend our time serving you faithfully and serving others joyfully. Amen.


Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain

and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida

Provided by WELS Ministry to the Military