With all the digital devices we have which can tell the time, there’s still nothing quite like a sundial.
Sundials, used since ancient times, were the very first clocks. Their faces are marked out with hour lines, and a projecting arm shows the time by the position of the shadow it casts on the face of the dial.
Sundials were, and still are, popular garden ornaments. They’re often placed on a pedestal in the centre of a flower bed as a focal point.
Most sundials include inscribed mottoes, either in Latin or English. These sayings are often wistful reflections on the passing of time and the brevity of life.
I think there are a few lessons we can learn from these mottoes, ones which jibe with Biblical counsel about making the most of our time.
Let’s look at a few of them…
Sundial motto: “I only count the sunny hours.”
We tend to do the same, don’t we? We live for the happy times in our lives and don’t really want to count the periods of struggle. The dark times, however, make us stronger, and are an essential part of life. Romans 5:3-4 affirms this:
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.”
Sundial motto: “While we have time, let us do good.”
It’s all too easy to use up our free time in self-indulgent pursuits, isn’t it? But Scripture counsels us to keep our focus on things that have eternal value:
“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
“While it is daytime, we must do the works of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no one can work.” (John 9:4)
Sundial motto: “Tempus fugit” (Time flies).
None of us knows how much time we have left on this planet. Use the time you have to tell others about God’s love.
“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Sundial motto: “Turn your face to the sun and the shadows will fall behind you.”
Sometimes the shadows of life dominate our field of vision. Hardships consume us and we find ourselves losing hope. The solution to this is to focus on the Son.
“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.” (Hymn)
Sundial motto: “Time passes, love remains.”
The only enduring thing in this universe is the love of God.
“Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever!” (1 Corinthians 13:8)
Sundial motto: “Remember how short life is.”
When we realize how short our time here on earth truly is, we’ll become wise by prioritizing the things that really matter.
“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
But the most important lesson a sundial can teach us is that without the sun shining, it’s useless: it can’t function as it’s supposed to and tell you the time.
Similarly, without the Son in our lives, we can’t function as we were meant to. We stay ensnared by sin and our relationship with our Heavenly Father remains ruptured.
So accept Christ into your life and let the Light of the World shine on you.
Don’t delay: it’s later than you think!
© 2021 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.