Now that we have had jokes, let us consider a riddle. What is more precious than gold but cannot be bought, earned, or saved? Yes ... the answer is ‘time’.
Probably the most famous Bible verse relating to time comes from Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season; a time for every purpose under heaven. Most of us think we understand time – We count it, measure it, calendarize it, and we never have enough of it. We mark time, make time, buy time, waste time, kill time, spend time, and lose track of time. We are told that time is money, yet we can fall on hard times because the times, they are a-changin’. Still, time heals all wounds. Time and time again we’re told “there’s no time like the present” since we are living on borrowed time.
Once upon a time we learned to pass the time, and when we are pressed for time, we tune into prime time. We want quality time in real time, sharing a moment in time, with a love that can stand the test of time until the end of time.
Some people believe patience and time are our warriors, that time is on our side, and that we can turn back time. We even created Daylight Savings Time. We can be ahead of our time or behind the times or hit the big time. We can have too much time on our hands, have time to spare, and time to burn. Time is running out and the tide and time wait for no one. We are rushed for time, pressed for time, fighting against time, and at the same time we can be buried by the sands of time as time marches on.
All in due time, all in good time, even at the last minute, the eleventh hour, we can show up in the nick of time because it is better late than never in this race against time. In times like these we can wait a cotton-pickin’ minute, hold on a second, and bide our time.
As time goes by, just for old time’s sake, we’ll have a whale of a time, a great time; we might even become a laugh a minute; and since time flies when we’re having fun it’s important to have the time of our lives in a place where a good time is had by all. From time to time, someone will give us a hard time during teatime in the summertime when the livin’ is easy. Yet, tough times never last, but tough people do.
We are taught that time is short, and it is important to be on time. Better three hours too soon than a minute late. We may delay, but time will not. We also learn not to wait on our dreams because the time will never be right; procrastination is the thief of time. Yet we are told that the time we enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
But in the time being, we can spin our wheels, and know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and understand that a stitch in time saves nine. Conventional wisdom says there is no time like the present, but only time will tell because – after all, it is only a matter of time. In the meantime, we think we have time, but what we are learning is that the only thing more precious than our time is who we spend it with, and it’s about time.
Obviously, time is important to our culture. As a society, one of the ways we judge people is by their schedules, how they spend their time, where they invest their time. There are classes offered on time management. People make livings from teaching others how to deal with their time and priorities.
Science however, has not formed a consensus on time. Some scholars differentiate between physical time and psychological time. Some scientists theorize that time is linear, the arrow of time points in a preferred direction. Other scientists theorize that past, present and future happen simultaneously. Some say time is simply a measurement of the changes that we perceive, and if we could be in a place where there was no change, then time would no longer be present. Still other scientists say flatly that time does not exist, it is a human construct.
The Bible says this about time in 2 Peter 3:8: But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. From this verse some folks have concluded that the world then is 6000 years old or so. They interpret this verse literally, and don’t see it as a description for God’s omnipresent nature, that the One Presence is beyond the constructs of the human mind.
Time remains elusive, and Saint Augustine said something I appreciate: What then is time? If no one asks me, I know what it is. If I wish to explain it to him who asks, I do not know.
My perception is that time passes more quickly every year. There is just not enough time to do everything I want to do. It’s something we all come to realize – there will never be enough time to accomplish, see, or experience everything we want. It doesn’t matter if we are speaking of needs, leisure, work, travel, or any other issue. It comes down to prioritizing the things we desire and then apply our time to those most important things. As Golda Meir said: I must govern the clock, not be governed by it.
So, what are the most important things we want to accomplish, see, do, and experience while in these bodies? And really, from the perspective of soul growth is that even the right question? Perhaps a better one is: What are the most important things that God wants us to accomplish, experience, do, and see in this life?
After all, look at Christ. For the three years of his ministry, he moved from village to village teaching and healing people along the way. He would heal a couple of people here and there and leave hundreds still in need. He just couldn’t get to them all. He would then move on to the next village and do the same thing.
He never seemed to waver in his journey or mission; he didn’t complain or get frustrated. He may have been busy and exhausted at the end of the day, but he never seemed rushed or pressed for time. He always seemed to have the time to love people, counsel them, teach them, and tend to them.
He may have had plans but if people interrupted those plans, he met them and tended to them, and accepted the interruption as part of God’s plan -- for instance, when he fed the 5000 in Mark 6. Jesus was leading his disciples away to solitude for rest when he was inundated by people who had followed them. Rather than become resentful, he was filled with love and compassion. He fed them physically through a physical miracle and fed them spiritually with his teaching. This example taught his disciples powerful lessons as well. It was a teachable moment.
When his body and mind were tired, he went out by himself to pray and rejuvenate, but then, it was on to the next village. Why? “For that is what I came for,” He said. He knew God’s will for his life, and he would not be deterred, even by his own needs.
He taught the people and he taught his disciples, who carried on his work after his crucifixion. While hanging on the cross, the towns and the world were still filled with need and suffering, but Christ said, “I glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4). God had given Him enough time to do what He had called Him to do, and that was what mattered.
No, there will not be sufficient time for us to do all that we want to do, but there is enough time to do what God wants us to do. It is irrelevant how gifted we are or talented or capable or resourceful or strong – we will not be able to meet all the needs or accomplish all that we see that needs to be done around us. But we can find the time and ability to do what God calls us to do.
Our challenge is that we live in a society that worships accomplishment, success, and work, and are taught that they lead to fulfillment, satisfaction, and worldly security. Many people have developed their sense of achievement to the point of compulsion and obsession. Worldly success is their primary motivator; it is a seductive intoxicant. What begins as an aspiration turns into an addiction; an occupation becomes a preoccupation.
And the irony is that no matter what we do, how much we accomplish, how hard we work – it is never enough. There is not enough time. The solution is to reexamine our priorities – what is important to Source? How can we best use our time to accomplish God’s will?
We are Children of God: our purpose is not found on earth but in Spirit. We are ambassadors of Christ, vessels for Spirit, instruments of peace, joy, love, and service. No scrutiny of this world will reveal our true purpose; it comes only from our Creator. The earth is a means to the end, not the end in itself.
So, how should we spend our time? Christ offers this idea in Matthew 25:35-40: "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' …
When Christ said these things, his disciples asked, "When were you ever in prison? When were you hungry and in need of clothes?" Jesus answered, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
The essence of a Spirit-filled life is to listen to the inner guidance, make the time, and find the ways to express the inner Christ into Creation. Despite the fact that we need to support ourselves and our families, there are ways that we can give to our brothers and sisters in Spirit that are part of God’s will for us.
You will feel the joy of God flow through us when we volunteer at church, or at a hospital, school, or social service agency; praying for the sick and suffering; babysit for a friend or neighbor; inviting a lonely soul to dinner; helping the sick and elderly and others in need. Visit them, run errands, give rides for appointments, or help with chores. Give hugs and attention to family members. Release grudges and forgive anyone who has wronged us. Smile and be patient with those we encounter throughout the day. Think no ill of anyone. Find creative expression for our own talents. The goal is to let our inner light shine. “Whatever you have done for the least of these, you have done for me.”
We cannot save up time for later. We cannot set our dreams aside for another day, because that day may never come – there is only today. We only have now to spend with those we love. Every new moment brings a new opportunity to experience life from a fresh perspective, a new opportunity to realize our potential, to transform and grow. Every new day allows a different choice for taking a new path. Abraham Lincoln said: The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. He could have said, “one moment at a time - one now at a time.”
We can choose to make today a turning point. Whether the changes we make are large or small, each one propels our growth. Beginning now, and for the time that we have remaining, we can discover more about ourselves, how Spirit works in and through us, and how to express our divine nature in more meaningful, loving, and beautiful ways.
As we connect with Spirit, we are supported in every way: our steps are guided, and all things work for our good. Every season, every cycle brings novel and exciting opportunities and ways to spend our time: in healing, in learning, developing new friends and relationships, and finding additional ways to serve.
Psalm 90:12 says: Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom. It is my prayer that we confidently and wisely venture into the timeless will of God where we can accomplish what Spirit intends for us, and ignore the instructions issued by the loudest voice in the room, the World, and our ego. We are being called to stand up, step forward, and behave like a Child of God: not conformed to the ways of the world, but bold, powerful, obedient to God, confident, wise, insightful, peaceful, joyous, light-filled, and loving … and it’s about time.