Time management guru Stephen R. Covey once said, “The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” It was a few years ago that some very good friends suggested Terri and I read a book called Just 18 Summers, by Michelle Cox and Rene Gutteridge which unpacks the importance of making the most of quality time with your children before they grow up. For Terri and me, we had just become grandparents and we became committed to do just that very thing, make the most of those 18 summers. It was William Penn who said that “Time is what we want most, but… what we use worst.” We have vowed to not let that happen with the time we have with our little darlings!
When you consider the brevity of life itself, there are some things worth remembering. I’m reminded that my life in its entirety is short in duration. Psalm 39:5 says, “Behold thou hast made my days as a handbreadth”. Now if you look at the width of your hand, it really isn’t much compared to your leg or your arm. In Psalm 102:11 he says, “My days are like a shadow that declineth; I am withered like grass.” Like grass grows and withers, so our life is in its length. I found a website recently that you could go to and type in your age and a little health information and it would tell you about how many days you have to live. It will even send you a calendar so you can count down the days till you die. Me, I’m not interested in a calendar, but I am interested in being ready to leave when my time comes. D. L. Moody once said, “One day you will pick up the paper and it will say that D. L. Moody is dead. But don’t you believe it; I’ll be more alive than ever before.”
Secondly, it reminds me that while I am here I need to do what I was created to do. One of the tragedies of our culture’s embracing of the theory of evolution is that it teaches that mankind is just an accident. So, we exist and then we die and after that nothing. But the scriptures teach us that we are made in the image of God and that we are created for good works. Makes more sense doesn’t it? And it also gives you a reason to live, a reason to get up in the morning. Because we’re not an accident, we’re a creation. Maybe that’s why abortion has been so readily accepted. When God is taken out of the equation of life, death and destruction are soon to follow.
Thirdly it proves something to me. It proves that while I am here, though it be for a short time, I need to apply myself to God’s plan for my life while I have the health, the mind and the resources to be effectively used by him. Often we are guilty of wasting time and doing things our way and not God’s way. Walter Knight told of an old Scottish woman who went from home to home across the countryside selling thread, buttons, and shoestrings. When she came to an unmarked crossroad, she would toss a stick into the air and go in the direction the stick pointed when it landed. One day, however, she was seen tossing the stick up several times. “Why do you toss the stick more than once?” someone asked. “Because,” replied the woman, “it keeps pointing to the left, and I want to take the road on the right.” She then dutifully kept throwing the stick into the air until it pointed the way she wanted to go! Often our inclination is to do only what we want to do, the way we want to do it. It may well be that God has something better in store if we are willing to seek and to do His good will.
Lastly, I’m reminded of a story I read recently in a book called “Winning the new Civil War” by Robert Dugan. He writes, “The time was the 19th of May, 1780. The place was Hartford, Connecticut. The day has gone down in New England history as a terrible foretaste of Judgment Day. For at noon the skies turned from blue to gray and by mid-afternoon had blackened over so densely that, in that religious age, men fell on their knees and begged a final blessing before the end came. The Connecticut House of Representatives was in session. And as some men fell down and others clamored for an immediate adjournment, the Speaker of the House, one Colonel Davenport, came to his feet. He silenced them and said these words: “The Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not, there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found doing my duty. I wish, therefore, that candles may be brought.” Time moves swiftly enough and what matters most is to be ready when time is up. Well, I’ve got to go; the grandkids are coming over!
Tim Throckmorton is the former executive pastor for Plymouth Heights Church of the Nazarene in Franklin Furnace, Ohio, and Portsmouth First Church of the Nazarene. He is currently senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville, Ohio.