I used to hear people say this years ago when I was a child, and I never quite understood it. Now, I think I do.
The older you get, the faster time seems to move.
I am astounded that tomorrow is the last day of April, 2016. That will bring to completion the first third of the year. Last Christmas seems like yesterday – but it wasn’t! Perhaps it comes with busyness, perhaps with age, but either way, the clock seems to tick faster these days.
So I’m led to ask myself, and you: What are you doing with this time?
We all know each day is a gift; this is especially true for those who have lost loved ones. The value of keeping short accounts is magnified when we come to realize that the time we have with others may be limited.
Likewise, we do well to be good stewards of our time. Often, when we think about stewardship as followers of Jesus, it’s in the context of the wise use of the material wealth with which the Lord has blessed us, or maybe the care and conservation of the environment, the world God made.
But time? That’s a gift to be stewarded as well. Think about the number of hours we have in each week: 168. If we spend 56 of them sleeping, 10 of them eating, 7 of them in the Necessary Room, 45 of them working, and 10 of them driving to and from work, that leaves us with 40 waking hours to do other things. How can we be good stewards of those 40 hours? Here are a few ideas.
Build your spiritual life. As has been famously said, in 100 years, the only thing that’s going to matter is what you did with Jesus, so prioritize those 40 hours (and maybe some of the others, while you’re at it) building your spiritual life. Make worship with the church and personal or family worship a priority. Take time each Sunday to worship in community and spend time in fellowship with other followers of Jesus. Be part of a small group of some sort that deepens that fellowship and involves some less formal study time. Read Scripture, pray, and engage in other spiritual disciplines daily. Use the time you’ve been given to enrich your relationship with the Giver of time.
Build your family life. If you’re married and/or have children, prioritizing your spiritual life is the biggest favour you can do for your family, but the next thing you should do is deepen the relationships you share with those closest to you. If you’re single, that can involve spending time with close friends. Do things together. Talk together, without competition from technology or television.
Rest. In a world where the addiction to work (or even play) is not yet seen as a problem, rest is often frowned upon, but we all need it. God set the example in creation where he looked at all he had made in 6 days, pronounced it good, and set aside the other day for rest. Rest isn’t something we do just when we’re sleeping. Remember, the word ‘recreation’ can be hyphenated to ‘re-creation’. When we rest, we are re-created, rejuvenated, made ready for the week that is ahead of us; that’s why having a day of rest at the beginning of the week is so wise. (Ever wonder why Sunday is on the left side of most calendars?) Work from your rest, not toward it.
Of course, there can be overlap in all of these, can’t there? We can build our spiritual lives and our family lives as part of our rest – but we should set aside some of that rest for personal renewal. There’s no single formula for all this, so I encourage you pray about how the Lord would have you be a good steward of the time he has given you. Hold your calendar before God as an offering. Let the Lord speak to you as you seek to make priorities in your life. After all, we think our time is our own, but in reality, time is in his hands.
“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3.1, NLT).