The iconic band, The Rolling Stones, mused that time was on their side and The Byrds told us that there’s a time for every purpose. George Carlin had a funny bit about time (video NSFW) in 1978. Most competitive sports are regulated by time as our lives, of course, are also regulated by time.
Time to wake up, time to go to work, break time, lunch time, evening drive time, dinner time, and finally, we come full circle with bed time. Time is our master. We’re afraid that we’re running out of it, we plead for more, we lament that there’s not enough of it in a day, and then we ask “Where’s the time gone?”
I’ve been thinking a lot about time lately. For most people in our age, the time is perceived in a negative sense. Time limits our potential, “If I just had more time.” As a people, we are impatient; we don’t want to put in the time, we want to be at the top of the game now. Time is the enemy in a world where technology seems to advance faster than we can learn it. If we’re not on the bubble, we’re too late.
The breakneck pace of today’s world frustrates us with slow internet page loads. Most can remember when our dial-up connection seemed fast. The irony of rush hour traffic is that we’re all moving at the same pace and it’s impossible to rush, yet we’re frustrated because we’re racing against time.
It may seem to us that we’re a prisoner to time, but I think we unknowingly give our freedom to time. We do have some control over time in our lives, we just need to recognize it before we can control it. There are areas in our lives that we can’t control (work, doctor’s office waiting room, aging), but we tend to allow our time, our free time, to be used in ways that are wasteful.
The Parable of the Talents tells us that God doesn’t bless us all equally. We are all given different amounts of this and that, but we shall be rewarded equally, provided that we use our gifts wisely. We will be blessed on how we used our gifts during our lives. Some people find they’re gifted in the performance arts, athletics, or the written word. Others are gifted with empathy and they have the ability to help those in need.
Sadly, many spend much of their lives wondering if they even have a gift. And for them, the “wanderers”, I have good news. Time is a gift. And like the examples above, we’re all gifted with time differently. How can we use this gift to help those in need, to feed the hungry, and heal the sick?
Our task, whether we’re musicians, artists, writers, CEO’s, athletes, teachers, crossing guards, or toll booth attendants, is to show God’s love through our actions and through our influence. It is our role to empower each other to do the right thing and to lessen the sufferings of our fellow man. Like Joseph of the Old Testament, we are called to show mercy to those who have wronged us and compassion for their suffering. The lesson of Cain was not only that we are not to murder, but that we are, indeed, our brother’s keeper. When we love each other, we are also expressing our love to God, because God is within each of us. And in turn, he shows us his love through the support and assistance of others.
Larry McMurtry wrote in his epic novel Lonesome Dove that “Life is short…shorter for some than for others.” We don’t know how much time we have, or how little, so I’m going to start making better use of my gift; while I still have the time.