It’s About Time
Can you see yourself in that video? I know I sure can.
Time. We live by the clock. It rules our lives. Time is money. Time is valuable. We are always busy. Always more to be done than hours in the day. So what happens? We get impatient. Constantly in a hurry. We miss so much.
So we’re busy, we’re frenzied, we’re frenetic all the time. And you know what’s interesting; we’re busy even when we’re not busy. We’re hurried even when we’re not in a hurry.
You know our parsonage is in Forrest Ridge and usually I take Lincoln Ave to get home for lunch or at the end of the day. And I notice this; the speed limit on that road is 25 mph. And when somebody’s driving 24 it really irritates me. Now I mean the speed limit is 25 mph, but when someone’s driving 24 it’s like, “What’s wrong with you? Come on! Get moving!” And so now suddenly the speed maximum has become the speed minimum. Have you noticed that? And if you’re driving below the speed maximum there’s something wrong with you.
This is how it works when I go to the grocery store, which is nearly every day to get my yogurt and bagel on the way to the office. I pull up to the checkout lines with my few little items and I look around and I scan quickly and try to figure out, which one am I going to get out of fastest. Now there’s a certain method to this. First of all you look at the cashiers and you try to figure out which one looks the most proficient at what they do. Then you balance that with which line looks the shortest and then you look to see, in that short line how many items are in each person’s basket. And then quickly within a second or two you make an assessment. And then you get in the line you think is going to be the fastest. Then this is the best part, you look out of the corner of your eye and you remember you would have been behind the woman in the red sweater and you watch to see whether you got out faster than she did or not. And then if you don’t you get up to the front and you think, ”What’s the deal? Why?” It like that extra 30 seconds really matters.
How are you using your time? That’s the question today. Because how you use your time is a matter of stewardship. And today as we begin to turn our attention to stewardship, and move toward our stewardship commitment Sunday that is a very important question.
Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with $86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!
Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off as lost whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft.
Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the “tomorrow”. You must live in the present on today’s deposits. The clock is running.
That’s exactly what today’s scripture lesson reminds us of. Listen once again to these verses:
“Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You turn people back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, you mortals.” A thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night…Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:1-4, 10, 12)
In those immortal words I believe we have the formula by which we rightly fulfill God’s purposes with our time.
1. Starts with the letter T: TREASURE our time
God says we should treasure time as a valuable commodity. You number your years (or at least some of you do), but God says every day is so precious; we should treasure it and number it.
To realize the value of ONE YEAR, ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH, ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
How valuable is an hour? Ask the businessman whose flight was delayed an hour and he missed an important business deal.
How valuable is one minute? Ask the man who had the heart attack in the restaurant and an EMT happened to be sitting at the next table and CPR saved his life.
How valuable is a second? Ask the person who barely missed a head on with an oncoming car.
How valuable is a millisecond? Ask the Olympic swimmer who missed qualifying by six-tenths.
Time really is valuable. So learn a couple of things about what this means for you:
Treasure every moment that you have! Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift.... That’s why it’s called the “present!”
A.W. Tozer wrote:
“Time is a resource that is nonrenewable and nontransferable. You cannot store it, slow it up, hold it up, divide it up or give it up. You can’t hoard it up or save it for a rainy day–when it’s lost it’s unrecoverable. When you kill time, remember that it has no resurrection.”
So, understand that you should treasure time as the most valuable asset you are given in this world. The next letter in TIME is:
We use a lot of phrases with time that aren’t really possible. You can’t buy more time and you can’t really find more time. We speak of making time, but that’s impossible, too.
In the early 1970s Jim Croce wrote a song that said, “If I could save time in a bottle, the first thing that I’d like to do, is to save every day ‘till eternity passes away–just to spend them with you.” Those are great lyrics, and it would be nice if we could save time, but you can’t. In fact, a few months after he wrote that song, he was tragically killed in a plane crash at the age of 30. You can’t save time - you can only invest it.
And here’s the thing, where you invest your time reveals what is most important to you.
There are 168 golden hours in each week. The average person will spend about 56 of those hours sleeping, about 24 of those hours in eating and personal hygiene, and about 50 of those hours working or traveling to work. That means there are only about 35 hours a week of “discretionary” time left over. That’s about 5 hours per day. Where are you investing those hours?
If I were to follow you around and observe you for those 5 hours, after about 10 days, I could tell you what is most important in your life. You might not like it, or agree with it, but for some of you, surfing the Internet is most important to you. For others of you, watching television, or reading magazines is what’s most important.
How much of that discretionary time are you devoting to your family? How much are you devoting to your Lord? How much are you devoting to your church?
The next letter in TIME is:
I reminded you this morning that all the money we receive comes from God and we only manage it. The same can be true of time. God is the creator of time, and He alone controls it.
A time management expert was teaching a seminar for executives. He placed a large, clear open-mouthed jar in front of the group. Next, he put seven or eight large rocks into the jar until it was full. “Is the jar full?” He asked. Everyone nodded. Then he took pebbles and filled up the jar with the small rocks until they reached the rim. “Is the jar full?” By now, they didn’t answer. So, he poured fine sand in. “Is the jar full?” Some nodded. He proceeded to take a pitcher of water and filled up the jar again. “What’s the lesson about time management?” he asked. Hands shot up, and everyone agreed “No matter how busy you are you can always fit more things into your schedule.” “Wrong.” he replied. “The lesson is: unless you put the big rocks in first, they never will fit in. You must figure out what the big rocks are for you.”
What are the big rocks in your life? Giving time to God? Giving time to your marriage and to your children? If you don’t put those big rocks in first, someone else will fill up your jar.
In his book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey writes: “Time management is a misleading concept. You can’t really manage time. You can’t delay it, speed it up, save it or lose it. No matter what you do time keeps moving forward at the same rate. The challenge is not to manage time, but to manage ourselves.”
the apostle Paul puts it this way. He writes: “ Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Constantly be looking to make the most of every opportunity.
If you don’t manage your time - someone else will manage it for you. If you don’t control your schedule, someone will always be happy to do it for you. Some people complain they just don’t have enough time to spend with their family. You’ve got exactly the same amount of time as everyone else; you just aren’t managing your time wisely or managing yourself wisely.
The most important time you will invest will be in your family. Many of you remember the song, “The Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin. Part of it says,
“My child arrived just the other day.
He came to the world in the usual way.
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
He was talking before I knew it, and as he grew
He said, “I’m going to be like you, Dad.
You know I’m going to be like you.”
My son turned ten just the other day.
He said, “Thanks for the ball, now come on let’s play.
Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today,
I’ve got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s OK.”
And he walked away and he smiled and he said
“You know I’m going to be like you, Dad,
You know I’m going to be like you.”
The final verse says:
I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
I said, “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu,
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad.
It’s been real nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.
Maybe you’ve heard the song, but here’s the rest of the story: Harry Chapin’s wife, Sandy, actually wrote the words to that song after their son Josh was born. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. When their son was 7, Harry was performing 200 concerts a year, and Sandy asked him when he was going to take some time to be with his son. Harry promised to make some time at the end of the summer. He never made it. That summer, a truck hit Harry’s Volkswagen bug and he was killed.
The final letter in TIME is:
Here is the secret to enjoying time: Add some margin to your life.
We need margin in our lives. Jesus understood this. He frequently stopped to rest. Several times He took a boat across the Sea of Galilee so the group could have some quiet time. Jesus often found time to be alone with God. Even God took the seventh day (the Sabbath) to rest and enjoy His creation.
Margin is breathing room. It’s keeping a little reserve that you’re not using up. Margin is the space between our load and our limit. The goal is to build some margin into our lives so we will have time and energy for the things that really matter.
Margin Gives us Time to Enjoy Life It gives you time to stop and smell a flower, pause and enjoy a sunset, visit with a friend, take a relaxed walk with your mate, read a book, or take a nap. Margin removes the clutter from our lives so we can start see more clearly.
Margin helps us Remain Physically Charged Margin recognizes that our bodies need a chance to right themselves. The psalmist is right; we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” Our bodies have astounding recuperative properties. However, the body must be given a chance to restore itself. Even the best NASCAR crew can’t fix a race car when it is going 200 miles an hour. The car has to stop before it can be repaired. The same is true of our lives. We must slow down. Margin gives us time to rest and recharge.
Margin Gives us Time to Respond to the Needs of Others. As we saw in the video earlier there are needy people all around us. Margin gives us the time to really see them. Most of us want to help but we don’t help because we have other things we have to do. We would like to help people who are in financial need, but we have already spent more than we have. We would like to participate in a ministry but we are too busy to do so. Margin gives us time to respond to God’s promptings.
Margin Gives us Time to Hear from God. Isaiah wrote
“They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
So I ask you again, How are you using your time?