Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church

It's just a matter of time


"For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it."—Matthew 16:25

By Bishop Robert Hayes

The most remarkable invention ever devised by humankind to measure our lives can be defined by one simple word: Time. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years—they mark life’s journeys.

Time, that precious commodity, flees from us when we most need it. There are never enough years, days, even seconds. We want more time to work, to witness, to wonder.

Time is enemy, friend, and ally. But it is never our own.

That’s why it felt so good to walk through my house on the last day of October, turning back all the clocks by one hour. That was my sweet revenge for the precious time I feel that I lost throughout the year. Picking up each timepiece gave me a sense of power, a feeling of control, as Daylight Saving Time ended.

Just think, with a stroke of my hand I set back the night by 60 minutes. I gained an hour of time. When I got up Sunday morning, I felt I had succeeded in cheating time.

But did I really?

Did I alter the length of the day, or was the adjustment all in my mind? Did I slow the rotation of the earth, or hold back the sunrise, or quicken the sunset?

No; it seems what I really did was embark on a series of questions that center around our time and God’s time. I don’t know who first came up with the concept of "falling back" or "springing ahead," but going through those motions twice a year causes me to think a lot more about the time God has given us.

The Bible says a lot about time. Job 7:6 says, "Our days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle." Psalm 90:10 records that our lives may cover 70 years or, "by reason of strength, we may live 80 years." However, the psalm concludes those years "are soon gone, and we fly away."

It seems to me that we should spend our limited time in this marvelous universe by giving our lives to some great cause. The Scriptures say life is short, so let us devote what time we do have to using our intelligence, skills, talents, and labor for some worthwhile endeavor.

How about giving ourselves to the Kingdom of God?

I’ve heard it said that when God created the heavens and the earth, it was done in such a way that we—humankind—would complete the task! The deeply Christian point of view is that each one of us should be glad to give his or her time to the greatest cause—to following Christ in pursuit of finishing what God began.

For this reason, you and I were born. From God we come and back to God we return, but what we do or fail to do for God between will determine how wisely we use the time God gives us.

When we accept that God has given us life, here and now, we begin to understand that time has little to do with how long we live and everything to do with how we live. It all belongs to God.

Humankind has done a good job of messing up God’s plan. Alongside the beauty put here for us to enjoy, we have introduced greed, war, rivalry, prejudice, and a host of other ills. Evil exists alongside good. And we cannot defeat evil unless we are willing to give our lives to that which is good. Evil spelled backwards is live, and that is what God wills for us.

Today, I suggest you do three things that will help the cause of the Kingdom as the sand slips away in your life’s hourglass.

  • First, be on guard about wasting the time God has given you. Ephesians 5:16 says, "Look carefully how you walk, making the most of your time."
  • Secondly, stop looking back at time you didn’t use wisely, and understand that only when you look forward will God bless you as you "lose" yourself in service to the Creator.
  • Lastly, regardless of the years of your life, remember that all your time is in God’s hands. It is God who fixes your coming in and your going out. God ultimately decides the seasons of your life.

What better time than now to give yourself to an immense cause, a suffering Savior, and a Kingdom that has no end?

The hourglass shows my time for writing this has run out.


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