“Editorial: Time, a Generous Gift,” Ensign, Feb. 1972, 81
There is something about the threshold of a new year that at once invites reflection on the year just past and an unbounding eagerness to be done with it and to start anew.
In so many ways the uncharted year ahead is like a cluttered slate rubbed clean. It is a good time for correcting past errors and unrewarding habits. It is a good time to rid ourselves of old animosities and to be a truer kind of friend.
Although scientists have recently rediscovered with some fascination what Einstein told us years ago about the relativity of time, the majority of men’s earth activities are not predicated on such sophisticated timekeeping. Inexorably, time ticks on as God has decreed, with a succession of days and nights for all to share equally—no more and no less for any of God’s children.
With man’s finite mentality, which demands a beginning and an end to every phenomenon and activity, there is much comfort in the undeviating regularity of a twenty-four-hour cycle. We can with ease multiply that piece of time forward into the future or backward into history for a product of months, years, centuries, and even beyond. But imagination balks when it confronts eternity and infinity, for there, calculations must depend on higher laws.
Using celestial timekeeping as a measure, our earth lives would represent little more than a perceptible tick in an endless strip of time. But that brief hiatus is immeasurably important and necessary, for within its short duration each man gains a physical body and attempts to prove his obedience to his Heavenly Father’s commandments. Some use this time span to great advantage by accepting each year, each day, as a generous gift from their Eternal Father. Others would seek to change the past and bring time back, their lives marred by recrimination and that most potent of Satan’s tools—procrastination.
Those who achieve personal success, who make the most lasting contribution toward man’s onward progress, or who render the greatest good do so by no magic. They have schooled themselves in the proper use of time, in the development of self-control, and they are secure in the knowledge of their relationship to their Creator. Reverencing his sense of order and growth in all things, they too express themselves creatively. They understand that time cannot be recalled and that lessons only can be gleaned from the past to be used as a guide to future accomplishments. Worry becomes their companion only when they allow apprehension to smother their anticipations.
Controlling attitude isn’t a divine gift bestowed on a select few; it is a possibility for anyone who dares to make that most difficult journey of all into his own consciousness where complete honesty should prevail. An unyielding faith in God’s love and concern for us, coupled with a positive attitude, are the best defenses against the adversary who would steal time from us.
Contrast the profound wisdom, hope, and patience commingled in Ecclesiastes with regard to time and Macbeth’s numbing desolation when he soliloquized:
“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage.
And then is heard no more.”
(Macbeth, act 5, scene 5.)
And from Ecclesiastes, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” (Eccl. 3:1.)
As intelligent beings with the power of choice, we are not at the mercy of time, but rather, time will be merciful to us if it is used with care. And it can be a healer of disappointment and grief when all else fails.