Managing Time

January 23rd, 2012

Time is an amazing and interesting thing. One fact about time is that it is not real! You can’t hold it. You can’t see it. You can’t taste it. You can’t buy it. You can’t control it. You can’t make it speed up or slow down. You can’t go back in time. You can’t give it away. You can’t store it in anything. I remember a line from a song by the late Jim Croce: “If I could save time in a bottle.” The reality is you can’t save time in a bottle, or a box, or a wooden chest. You can’t save time in anything. One reality about time is that we only have so much of it. We are finite beings. In Psalm 90, the psalmist reminds us that we are like grass that is renewed in the morning and fades and withers in the evening. The psalmist also states that our life span is seventy or perhaps eighty years. Today we know that many people live beyond this range and some even live beyond a hundred years. But still, the reality is we all die and our time on this earth is limited. Because we are finite beings, time is very precious to us and it must be used wisely.

Time is something we have invented to help us track events and plan our daily lives. When God created the heavens and the earth, God kept time by the light and the darkness. It is interesting to note that God started with the evening and finished with the morning. After each day of creation we read the words, “And there was evening and there was morning, the [first through the sixth] day” (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, and 31). Some people today still consider that the new day begins at sunset. We, on the other hand, begin each day at sunrise. We have divided time beyond days to weeks, months, years, decades, and centuries. We have also subdivided the days into hours, minutes, and seconds.

This time that we have invented has great power over us. People are in such a hurry today because “they don’t have enough time,” and life makes great demands of our time. I enjoy watching people hurry about in their cars. They change lanes and go as fast as they can only to get stopped by the next traffic light. Somehow we believe that if we go faster we can create more time for ourselves.

Another interesting fact about time is that God is beyond time. Whereas we are finite beings, God is infinite. We track things by the time they start and the time they finish, but God has no beginning and no end. Again the psalmist reminds us about this when he states, “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night” (90:4). We find these words in Psalm 102:27: “But you are the same, and your years have no end.” Sometimes we use the symbol of a circle to represent God because a circle does not have a beginning or an end. One of the beauties and mysteries of the Incarnation is that this infinite God took on finiteness. God broke into time and God did this to express his great love toward us finite beings.

The psalmist asks God to “teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart” (90:12). We need to seek godly wisdom as we plan our lives and our days so we can look back and say that our time was well spent on things that were truly important and lasting. How many times have we said or heard someone else saying, “I wish I could go back and do things differently”? The reality is that we cannot go back and relive the past, although some people try.

We need to set priorities with our time. Each one of us has the same amount of time each day. Why is it that we find ourselves saying, “I don’t have enough time”? It is because we have set priorities to use that time for other things. We do have enough time to do the things we want to do. When we don’t have enough time for something, we have simply placed a higher priority on something else. We need godly wisdom to help us set our priorities and recognize what is of lasting importance.

Spending time with God and with others should always be a top priority. When most people are finishing out their days on this earth, they don’t cry about the time they didn’t spend at work, or working on the computer, or about the books they haven’t read. Instead, they feel remorse for the time they didn’t spend with others like family and friends. It is an excellent idea from time to time to examine how you are spending your time. How much time do you spend in prayer, in Bible reading and study, and in worship? How much quality time do you spend with your spouse, your children, your parents, and your friends? There is nothing as precious as giving someone the gift of your time.

Be sure to watch out for things that will kill and waste time. Procrastination is a big time killer and one with which I have had many a great battle. Putting things off and then being forced to do a quick job should never be acceptable. On the other side of this coin are the workaholics. Work will always demand to be the top priority in our life, but remember about setting appropriate priorities. We also need time for rest, recreation, and retreat. Remember to keep a sabbath day.

We as Christians need to use our time wisely. Pray for wisdom in the area of time management. Ask God to help you count your days so you may “gain a wise heart.”

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