The Speed of Life

For the week of September 22, 2018 / 13 Tishri 5779

Concept art of business man riding on top of a missile

Ha’azinu
Torah: D’varim/Deuteronomy 32:1-52
Haftarah: 2 Samuel 22:1-51

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If they were wise, they would understand this; they would discern their latter end! (D’varim/Deuteronomy 32:29)

One of the fascinating things science has demonstrated is that everything is always moving. When we are sitting or standing still, our sense of non-motion is only relative to the other creatures and objects around us. But we are moving at an astounding rate. Not only is the earth rotating at about 1600 km/hr (1000 mph), while orbiting the sun at 107,000 km/hr (66,000 mph), the earth and the sun are both moving within our galaxy at approximately 70,000 km/hr (43,000 mph). In addition, our galaxy is spinning while it itself is moving within the universe (see https://astrosociety.org/edu/publications/tnl/71/howfast.html). You get the point. I am so glad that while I have trouble sleeping on airplanes, I can dream away in my bed, while flying at unimaginable speeds.

The earth is on a trajectory to somewhere. Exactly where we don’t know. It’s like our lives. Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly developing as we move at lightning speed to the future. Time may feel slow depending on what we’re going through, but like the earth in space, it’s moving. Within our bodies, cells are dying and replenishing. At any moment we are not identical to the person we were a split second ago. Only death can put an end to that.

Until then, every momentary thought, action, and reaction is an investment in our future. Not only are we never truly physically still, we are moving toward a personal destination, a destiny. And that destiny is largely dependent on us.

This week’s parsha (Torah reading portion) contains Moses’ song to the Israelites not long before his death. It’s not a very happy song as he speaks of their inevitable demise. Over time, things will not go well. They won’t go well because they were clued out about where they were heading. Like most of us, they would live in the now, blind to how they were setting themselves up for failure.

Moses didn’t sing the blues to make them feel bad. It was to help them (and us!) learn to look where they were going. Wisdom, Moses chants, would put them on a very different trajectory. Wisdom, the skill of effective living based on God’s ways, would set a course to a wonderful destination. Wisdom perceives the course of the trajectory. Wisdom knows there’s a destination. Wisdom plans accordingly. Foolishness ignores that we are moving at all. Foolishness drones on and on: life is meaningless; nothing changes; we aren’t going anywhere; there’s no destination; live for the moment; now is all there is.

It’s so easy to fool ourselves. Apart from life moving at an imperceptible pace, the consequences aren’t immediately apparent. No alarm bells. No sirens. Yet, all the while, we are molding the person we become. Every intention, every action, sculpts a finished product we don’t know we are crafting. Until it’s over. Before we know it, we reach the destination, when we see God and discover how it all ends for us. You might think you are standing still, going nowhere. But that’s only an illusion. Your life is speeding along like lightning. What will you have to show for it? Not only will you have to give an account for what God has entrusted to you, your eternal quality of life will be based on what you have done with yourself.

You can change your trajectory. The momentum you have built up needn’t carry you down the path of destruction any longer. God will help you make that sharp turn right now and set you on course for a most wonderful finish. Why wait?

Scriptures taken from the English Standard Version

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3 thoughts on “The Speed of Life

  1. Actually, the bible states that earth is fixed and stationary and that it is the sun and the moon and stars placed IN the firmament that are moving around us. At least 67 references to the sun moving/standing still and ZERO references to the earth moving. Science has never proven any of this great motion and speed. That might just be why you never feel this motion. The bible says let God be true and every man a liar. Science or more accurately scientism “falsely so called” is the liar not God who states that the earth is set on foundations and pillars so that it moveth not

  2. and actually, life is much more meaningful when you realize God is near, right above the earth that is his footstool and he looks upon us as grasshoppers. We are not hurtling ever outward into infinite space.

  3. Comments to this site are moderated, meaning I have to approve them before posting. I tend to approve all comments unless they are spam, promotional items, self-promotion in the guise of a comment, or deemed to be inappropriate for this forum. I hesitated to post the above comments by Dana Graves for two reasons. One, the scientific elements of my post served as an illustration for the main point. Their validity makes no difference to the point I was making. Therefore Dana’s concerns distract from what I was trying to say. Two, in over twenty years of writing TorahBytes, I have never run into this viewpoint.
    I decided to approve her comments to demonstrate what appears to be a growing movement of people who similarly distrust science. While I too am concerned about “scientism” (that truth can only be understood through a naturalistic “scientific” worldview), Dana goes too far in asserting an over-literalism with regard to Scripture. Claiming Bible asserts the earth doesn’t move wrongly assumes two things. First, that the biblical writers didn’t understand metaphor, and second, they were thinking and writing scientifically.

    While Scripture indeed speaks to areas that in my opinion contradict scientism’s claims, such as the existence of God or that every organism evolved from one unexplained cell, we need to be careful to assert what the Bible itself isn’t necessarily asserting.

    While I have the impression that Dana is not alone regarding this viewpoint, I am not going to continue this conversation here, but as I mentioned above, it is distracting. Whatever you think about science’s claims, wisdom dictates that you seriously think about where your life is heading.

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