Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Wasted Time

Sometimes it flies, sometimes it crawls, but it always passes inexorably. We mark it, save it, waste it, bide it, race against it. We measure it incessantly, with a passion for precision that borders on the obsessive. Time is so vitally enmeshed with the fabric of our existence, in fact, that it's hard even to conceive of it as an independent entity--and when we try, the result is less than enlightening. Pondering the mystery of what time really is, St. Augustine wrote in his Confessions, "If no one asks me, I know; but if any person should require me to tell him, I cannot." Michael D. Lemonick

Time is always moving forward. Whether we are ready for it or not, time will pass. Sometimes we embrace it and wish for it to move faster, such as when we are listening to a really boring preacher. At other times we want it to slow down, such as when we are spending time with a special someone or sharing one of those “unforgettable” moments with our children.

I had one of these moments a few days ago. Since we have two children, and they both like to hear stories before bed, my wife and I take turns putting them to bed. One night she will read to our daughter and put her to bed, while I am reading to our son and putting him to bed. The next night we switch.

Two nights ago was my turn to put our son to bed. We read a short book and then we were just lying on the floor talking. As we came to a place in our talk where we were not saying anything else, he just slid over beside me, took my arm and put it over him, and snuggled up. We just laid there on the floor for a few minutes, not saying anything at all.

After a few seconds, I noticed something. I could hear ticking. He has a Thomas the Tank Engine alarm clock. It is one of those wind-up clocks with the bells on top and the hammer that moves between them for the alarm. The second hand was extremely loud in the quiet room, as if the clock was trying to remind me of the constant passing of time. I wanted to savor that moment forever, but we both needed to go to bed.

Often, we don’t even notice the passing of time. It comes and goes. The times when we are mindful of it is when we don’t have enough of it. However, we should always be aware of how short this life is and how urgent we need to be about God’s work.

In Psalm 90, which is a prayer of Moses, we find the following words in verse 9-10

For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; We finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

We truly do not have time to waste doing and focusing on the things that do not matter. Jesus tells the parable in Luke chapter 14 about the great supper. One declined the invitation because he had bought some land and needed to attend to it, the second said that he had bought some livestock and needed to see after them, the third said he had just married and he needed to also decline.

What “things” are on your to do list that keep you from serving God? There is no excuse that is good enough for declining God’s invitation to serve. The seconds are ticking away. What are you doing?

Then [Jesus] said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:59-60

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