When one sees that today is the 3rd January 2021 and that we have been in lockdown since last year, it can be a shock to realize we have been in lockdown for 283 days already and that in 82 days time, should lockdown remain (at whatever level), it will be a full year of lockdown. Time moves and moves even whilst we are not watching! We don’t see it move, yet it moves.
The older I get, the faster times seems to move. We just celebrated Christmas, and soon we will have a repeated performance. Time is like one of those things we have all around us, but because we can’t see it (unless we clock-watch), we tend to be oblivious to just how fast it tends to move … as someone put it many years ago, “time gallops away”. Unless we are conscious of this fact, we get caught out. This includes being late for appointments, being unable to get to tasks, letting people down and not achieving what we ought to achieve.
During the last 1990’s, due to poor finances in the church, I taught at a high school for three years to supplement my income. My subjects were Bible Ed and Guidance. I always started the year saying to the students (I had every class from grade 8 through grade 12) that it was almost their final examination. Many of them laughed at me. Then I would take the year and break it down in actual school days, removing all holidays, public holidays, sports days, weekends and examination days. They were shocked when they realized that actual academic time was only a few months in days. This is how we tend to do life, business, studies, family time and time with God. We run out of time. We seem never to have sufficient time. Are we too busy? Does the family, work, schooling, including the hobbies and television, demand too much time from us, causing us to cut corners, not fulfill our commitments? Do we then blame the lack of time, or is our day too loaded with the urgent making it that we don’t get to the important?
Now contrast this with Solomon’s words in Ecclesiates:
Ecc 3:1 There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, 3 a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, 5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 6 a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, 7 a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, 8 a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.
Verse 1 knocks our idea of a lack of time completely! Just to contextualize what Solomon is saying, we must remember that Ecclesiastes is part of the Bible … God placed this Book where it is for a purpose. In it, we see Solomon searching for meaning in life. He wanted to understand the purpose of life, and it takes the whole book of his experiences before he finds out! The end result is … well, he organizes the last chapter like this:
Ecc 12:1 Remember your Creator in the days of your youth
Ecc 12:6 Remember him—before the silver cord is severed
Ecc 12:13 Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.
There is sufficient time to do everything that needs to be done … but it is only possible to see and use time correctly once we remember God the Creator (12:1), fearing Him for whom He is and living life according to His requirements (commandments). A correct perspective of time is only possible once one knows God personally and obeys Him according to His instructions. This is only possible through Jesus Christ, for there is no other way to know God personally. Obedience then is possible because of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
So, how are you using your time? Do you have sufficient time to accomplish every task before you, or do you lack time? As we approach this New Year, may I suggest taking a sheet of paper and diving it into two columns? On the left hand side, write down everything you do … including the things you need to do yet fail to get to. You need to be relentless and write it all down.
Once you’re exhausted of ideas and things you do and need to do, go to the right hand column. Prayerfully ask God to show you out of the left hand column which items are important–too often we become too busy with the urgent things that sap away our time. This might take time. You might even need to cross out things entered because, as you pray asking God whether “this” item is important or not, He might guide you to delete it! You might not like Him telling you to remove certain items from the “important” column, but He knows better than we do! In fact, as we streamline our daily agenda under God’s ‘sift’, we will see that our lives are going to be more enjoyable … we will have more time for God in our devotions … we will have more time for our immediate family … and we will be able to do those things we (as an individual or as a family) have longed to do, yet that “time” prohibited us from doing.
My friend, may it be for you and me that we seek to reorganize our lives this way so that we please our Lord, please our family and start to live a more enjoyable life without the guilt of neglect and failure.
O Lord my God, thank you for providing me with divine guidance from Your Word. So often I have been negligent and even sinful in the way I have ordered my day and my time. Forgive me for not having time for You, for my family and for the things I ought to have done as I have wasted time on what I deemed urgent. Help me from now onwards to structure my day, using the time You give me to accomplish all things necessary. Amen.