Observations about Time

“I just didn’t have enough time to (fill in the blank).” Ever said that? Someone might respond, “You had plenty of time; you just used your time for other pursuits.” It is possible that the contemplated task was too large for the block of time allotted for its completion, but “I didn’t have enough time” usually means that I used my time for something else.

Time is all about priorities.

Football games are played over a definite period of time – four quarters of fifteen minutes each – sixty minutes of regulation game time. A good coach knows how to “work the clock.”

If his team is behind in the score, he keeps
an eye on the remaining time in the game to determine if his team is “in trouble” or not. Twelve minutes left in the game, down by one touchdown? No time to panic – there’s plenty of time to score. On the other hand, if there is only two minutes left, he realizes that every second counts.

If his team is ahead, he wants to keep that clock ticking. If the score is close, he might be calculating if his team has enough time to score again if the opponent scores and takes the lead. If it is close to the end of the game and his team has the ball, he wants to “burn enough time off the clock” to ensure that the opposing team doesn’t have enough time to score if they get the ball back. He makes sure that every huddle before the play takes the maximum allotted time by the regulations.

The reason that football coaches can “work the clock” is that they know exactly how much time is allotted to the game. Occasionally, the timekeeper will be instructed by one of the referees to “put X number of seconds back on the clock” because the timekeeper didn’t stop the clock when the play was already over.

Unfortunately, life is NOT like football!

What we call “time” is just a system of measurement, a measurement of existence. It has been described as a “broken off fragment
of eternity.” We sometimes describe time as moving swiftly or slowly, but that is only our perspective. As a system of measurement, time doesn’t move swiftly or slowly. Each year has so many months, each month has so many days, each day has so many hours, and so on. My perspective regarding time may change, but time marches on at a constant rate!

We often use the expression “spending time.” Suppose someone gave you $1,000,000 to spend in whatever way you wish. Never having had so much money at one time, you might be extravagant or wasteful in your purchases because it seems that you have inexhaustible supply now.

Of course, if you were made to understand that anything you spent was gone and when the $1 million was gone, there would be none to replace it, you might be much more cau- tious in your spending. Even this illustration, however, encourages us to think the wrong way about time; we are not “granted” any amount of time.

Time is a measurement of our existence upon this earth! God has tried to impress us in the pages of inspiration with the brevity of our existence in this world. Moses wrote,

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. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:10-12; NKJV)

David wrote,

LORD, make me to know my end, And what is the measure of my days, That I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my age is as nothing before You; Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah Surely every man walks about like a shadow; Surely they busy themselves in vain; He heaps up riches, And does not know who will gather them. (Psalm 39:4-6; NKJV)

James described our life as being like a brief vapor (4:13-15). Just as with any commodity, our relatively small supply is what makes each fragment of time precious.

Returning to the football illustration...unlike the football coach who knows exactly how much time of regulation play he has, we don’t know much time we have; we just know that it is limited.

Ever wonder how a 60-minute game can last
2 1⁄2 hours? The “clock” is constantly stopping! In life, however, we can’t “stop the clock” with
a timeout, an incomplete pass, running out of bounds or achieving a first down. There is no “play clock” in life. We don’t have the luxury of putting our existence on hold while we plan our next “play.”

Handling life like a football game is extremely dangerous...because we don’t know when the clock will run out. And there is no way to “put time back on the clock” (thus the unique experience of Hezekiah!).

All of the fantasy films notwithstanding, once you choose what you will do with your life in any particular moment, you cannot go back and relive the same moment. I shudder to think of all the precious time (my person- al existence) that I have wasted in pursuits that have little or no redeeming value.

Wisely or unwisely, we WILL “spend” our time. Given $1 million, you might decide not to spend any cash until you have had a chance to contemplate the wisdom of a purchase. With time, you will spend it -- wisely or unwisely -- but it will be spent.

Time is all about priorities.

How are you using the precious time you are given? Are you putting the most important things first?