Time is the movement forward from the past, to the present, and into the future.

Time is the movement forward from the past, to the present, and into the future.

We use calendars and clocks to keep track of time.

We use calendars and clocks to keep track of time.

People pray at the Central Cathedral Heredia in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans tend to be polychronic. (AP/Kent Gilbert)

People pray at the Central Cathedral Heredia in Costa Rica. Costa Ricans tend to be polychronic. (AP/Kent Gilbert)

People attend a Bible study in Hanover, Germany. Germans tend to be monochronic. (AP/Jens Meyer)

People attend a Bible study in Hanover, Germany. Germans tend to be monochronic. (AP/Jens Meyer)

We can sense time passing when we see the seasons change.

We can sense time passing when we see the seasons change.

Living in Time

Posted: May 1, 2021

What is time? It’s a tricky question to answer. It’s the movement forward from the past, to the present, and into the future. We measure it in units like seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, and years. The idea of time might be hard to understand. But we can sense time moving forward—seeing the Sun rise and set each day, watching babies grow, and feeling the seasons change.

People live and operate inside time. We can’t go back in time or jump ahead to the future. God works within time, but He is actually outside of it. Why? Because He created time. Peter tells us that God is not limited by time: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (2 Peter 3:8)

Not everyone thinks about time the same way. Some cultures see time as linear—like a straight line. These cultures are monochronic. The United States and many countries in Europe tend to be more monochronic. Punctuality (being on time) and schedules are highly valued in those cultures.

But others, like many in Latin America and the Middle East, are more polychronic. People focus more on what they are doing or on building relationships, rather than the timeframe. In a polychronic culture, attendees might show up to a party or church service later than scheduled. Then they may stay long after the suggested end time. They’re not being lazy or disrespectful. The event is the important part to them, not the timetable.

We don’t know how much time God will give each of us. Our lives as we know them here on Earth will come to an end one day. But God offers us eternal life—and our time with Him will never end.