You know it is a slow news cycle when one of the hot stories of summer has to do with how fast our home planet Earth is spinning these days.
Here’s how the website Defector creatively reported the headline: “On June 29, Earth spun through a full rotation in 1.59 milliseconds short of the league-average 24 hours, a breathtaking athletic feat witnessed by an estimated 7.97 billion viewers. This sets a record for the fastest rotation of Earth since they started tracking the stat in 1955 with the advent of the first practical atomic clock” (defector.com/earth-the-true-goat-breaks-longstanding-speed-record/).
Did you catch that? On June 29 Earth spun 1.59 milliseconds quicker than the day before. Hmmm. Do you recall that day feeling a bit shorter? I can’t even remember June 29!
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Earth has gone into a sprint: “Terrestrial haste is a trend. In 2020, the planet recorded the 28 shortest days on record, and it kept spinning rapidly into 2021 and 2022. Before scientists could even verify that record-setting day time of June 29, our world almost outdid itself: It blazed through July 26, 2022 [a month later], 1.50 milliseconds ahead of schedule” ( apple.news/AWYlaADBKSYmI6RIzc9HB_A).
What’s up with these spurts of speed? Some scientists are suggesting that the melting polar caps have flattened the planet and are causing the spurts—but others respond such melting would actually slow Earth down, not speed it up. Another hypothesis suggests it has to do with the “Chandler wobble”—the phenomenon of “how the not-quite-perfectly-round Earth wobbles ever so slightly, like a spinning top as it slows down.” Apparently that wobble “mysteriously disappeared between 2017 and 2020, which could have helped the Earth finish the day a bit faster” (ibid).
But nobody knows for sure why Earth is breaking out into these occasional spurts.
So, are we getting older or younger? Is life speeding up or slowing down?
Here’s what I know about God. In those majestic words of the psalmist long ago:
Lord, you have been our dwelling place
throughout all generations.
Before the mountains were born
or you brought forth the whole world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God. . . .
A thousand years in your sight
are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:1-2, 3)
Peter echoes Moses’ psalm with these familiar words: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).
One point five nine milliseconds isn’t a whole lot of time, to be sure. But Holy Scripture promises this of God: “He has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So it really doesn’t matter how much time you have left—in milliseconds, in days, in years, in a lifetime. God’s assurance to you and me is that He can take the number of seconds allotted to our lifetimes and make them “beautiful.”
And that’s the life I want as we round summer’s corner and hurry towards the autumn of a new school year. Jesus makes “everything beautiful in its time.” Which makes this the right time for you and me to discover “the beautiful life” of Christ and to make it our own, while we still have the time.