On an occasion when some friends and I were scrutinizing the calendar together, lamenting the rapid passing of years, we were left wondering, “where does all the time go?”
Isn’t it interesting, though, that for being just a bunch of numbers, the dates on our calendars have such a big impact on our thoughts? We are immensely impressed by measurable passages of time. Maybe this is a good attitude: in the end, it turns out that time is more precious than gold and quite likely our most valuable resource.
There was an ad campaign in the 80’s (or was it the 90’s? I can’t remember because it’s been too long). The Department of Education ads quipped, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” I agree. But, honestly, time is an even more precious commodity.
Think about it. Have you ever felt that you’ve lost your mind? If so, you probably found it again eventually. It seems like I lose my mind all the time. I used to find it under a car seat, sometimes in the sofa cushions, and once in awhile it was carried off by one of my children or one of the house dogs only to be abandoned somewhere in a pile of video games or chew toys. Oh, well. I still feel like I’m losing my mind, but I am finding I can’t blame others like I wish I could. Oh, well.
At any rate, a lot worse than losing one’s mind is when we lose a moment. When you lose a moment, you’ve lost it forever. You won’t even find its remains in the lint trap of the dryer. Believe me: I’ve looked.
If only we’d realize how precious our moments are! More precious than gold are these small opportunities to influence our futures or the futures of others, whether we’re talking about a spouse, our children, our friends and neighbors, our co-workers, or even strangers. These “small opportunities” that we could be seizing daily to brighten a day, lighten a load or offer help in giving direction to someone adrift in life may make all the difference in determining the destiny of another human being.
But so often we choose instead to spend those moments counting minutes until coffee break, hours until we’re off work, days until the weekend, months until vacation, years until we find that job that will really let us spread our wings, and decades until retirement. Meanwhile, our moments slip away like children who’ve written with crayon on the wall. Too bad. For every moment we lose, we lose an opportunity, a “might-have-been” and a dream is diminished.
On the other hand, if we’ve already heeded such counsel and just downloaded the newest scheduling app, we could be susceptible to the lie that we have to keep busy just to keep busy. Frankly, doing something for the sake of merely doing something is just as bad as not doing anything at all.
“What” we do is as important as “how much” we do. It is right that we find things in which to invest our time and energy. But as we start finding things to do, we need to ask the question, “Is this where I want to leave my legacy?”
Instead of fretting excessively over exactly what mutual fund or stock option to buy into, we must begin to invest our moments in areas that ultimately matter (sorry to everyone who confuses the “afterlife” with a generous retirement fund).
First, consider your own spiritual life. Is it what it should be? Or are you “putting off” those things until a more expedient time? This is a terribly dangerous attitude for we often find that we don’t have all the tomorrows we had counted on. If there are unresolved spiritual issues in your life that need to be addressed, be wise and deal with them now.
Secondly, let’s invest in other people, particularly others who are in need. Look for folks in valleys of fear, loneliness, hunger or pain. Take a moment, consider its worth, and then plant it in the fertile soil of human need. It will bear fruit.
The Bible says in Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV), “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” As the future opens its blank pages to the pen of your choices, be careful what you write.
Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 22 years. He is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.