Like Sands through the Hourglass

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I guess everyone over the age of 30 probably can recall seeing or hearing the introduction to the soap opera Days of Our Lives. The music was not very catchy, but the simple lyrics were magnified by a depiction on screen of what was being described in the phrase “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.”

A large hourglass was shown on screen and the viewer got a glimpse of the sand as it trickled from the top to the bottom. If you are a younger reader or are unsure what I am referencing, Wikipedia provides this definition: “A device used to measure the passage of time. It comprises two glass bulbs connected vertically by a narrow neck that allows a regulated trickle of material (historically sand) from the upper bulb to the lower one.” These devices date back to 300 A.D. or earlier, but with the invention of mechanical clocks around 1500, they have gradually disappeared from regular usage. Some still make use of an “egg timer”, which is a three-minute hourglass. (It does not seem right to call something an hourglass when it lacks 57 minutes in making an hour, but I digress.)

Many might remember seeing an hourglass-type of timer included in a boxed game. If I recall correctly, I believe Pictionary or Charades had such a device that allowed each round to be timed accurately as the sand ran from the top bulb to the bottom in a minute. With cellphones invading everyone’s pocket or purse, we can now use an app to time our games, egg cooking, or whatever else we might like without using this ancient tool.

It is often remarked that the beginning of a New Year is like flipping the hourglass and now time (sand) is running on another year. As the sand dribbles out, we live day by day and watch as the days roll by, turning into weeks, weeks into months, months into a year, and then …?  The problem with this comparison, even though it makes a powerful visual parallel, is that we cannot assume with certainty how much time is left in the top bulb. I have and will continue to make plans for 2019. I’ve also made plans for 2020 and beyond, haven’t you?

I suppose I have plenty of sand (time) left in the top, but how do I know this? Truth be told, I do not and neither do you. Also, you can take an hourglass and turn it over and start again as many times as you might like – just a simple flip is all it takes. Can you do this with life? In one sense, because of God’s grace and forgiveness, we can start new with Him whenever we obey His Word, but as it regards the time we are allotted in this physical world, we cannot flip and start again. Sands (days, weeks, months, and years) are passing by every moment and we cannot get any of them back. What are we doing with the time we have right now? How much sand remains in the top bulb?

Are you prepared for the sand to run out? What if it runs out this year? You may not be planning on this happening, but can you be sure it will not? I do not want to be pessimistic or morbid, but I do want to encourage each of us to consider the brevity of life. Archaeologists discovered a tombstone from antiquity with an hourglass with wings carved into the stone and beneath the picture was the Latin phrase tempus fugit, which translated is simply – TIME FLIES! The sand is running – time is passing – make the most of the days of your life in 2019!

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