Last Saturday I went to a memorial service for a young man named “Jack.” He was 20 years old. A beautiful young man who I knew from church youth group. He was quiet and soft-spoken (at least around me) but had the most wonderful smile; it was a caring, loving grin that covered not only his face but seemed to consume his entire being. His eyes suggested he was seeing something wonderful and amazing every minute. A beautiful young man.
At his memorial service the opening scripture was from Ecclesiastes. It was a passage that most of us would recognize.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, …; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Here was a young man who left us after only twenty years. His time was so woefully short.
Time is one of the most valuable and irreplaceable things we possess. We can’t buy it. We can’t build it. We can’t borrow it. Yet it is one of the things we squander most readily. We waste time. We spend it doing silly things, stupid things, harmful things, but most of all we spend our time doing meaningless things.
We hoard our money. We invest in and insure our stuff. We cradle and caress our prized possessions. But so often we squander our time.
I am not one to look back and I am not one to live with regrets, but if I had one regret (actually, I have many) it would be to reallocate the time I have spent over the last 57 years.
I haven’t been the best steward of my time. Writer Malcolm Muggeridge entitled his autobiography “Chronicles of Wasted Time.” That could certainly be the title to my autobiography, perhaps many others as well.
My children are growing older and are moving on with their careers and families. And I (often painfully) realize that I won’t be able to get to do those days over when they were home.
With every day, I realize that the most precious gift I can give my children is my time. Moreover, with every day I realize that the most precious gift my children can give me is their time.
Time forces choice.
While in Thailand, I was talking to my daughter, who is 24, and she spoke to me of all the things she wanted to do in her life. Marriage, travel, teach, learn languages, raise a family, join the Peace Corps.
How am I going to do all these things, Daddy? she asked. I told her what my Dad told me: You can do anything you want. You just can’t do everything you want. There’s not enough time.
The Bible tells us that God blessed one day of the week, the Sabbath, and made it holy. That is, He tells us that time is holy. Those precious hours, when I set aside my work and busyness to focus on my relationships with God and my family—this is God’s most precious gift.
Let’s not waste it.