Sometimes it flies, sometimes it crawls, but it never stops moving. We mark it, we save it, we waste it, we bide it, we race against it. We measure it with a passion that borders on being obsessive. We are compelled by it, we never seem to have enough of it, yet scientists in our modern age still don’t know how to explain it. When St. Augustine was asked to describe it, he said, “If no one asks me, I know what it is; but if any person should require me to tell him, I cannot.” Of what am I speaking? Time. Never in the history of the world has time ever been so important, so valuable, and so precisely measured as it is today. In 1790, less than 10% of Americans had a clock of any kind in their homes, and the vast majority of the clocks that existed had no second hand. Alarm clocks and wristwatches were unknown until the end of the 19th century. Today, however, computers, communication satellites, global-positioning receivers, and telephone-switching systems need a precision beyond anything conceivable even fifty years ago. In Northwest Washington, on the grounds of the United States Naval Observatory in a concrete building, is the nerve center of the U.S. Directorate of Time. In that building are housed 28 atomic clocks, four of them holding atoms of hydrogen and the rest cesium. When the atoms are hit by microwaves or lasers, they begin to dance with a vibration that is measured by computers. Once each second the results are fed into America’s master clock. The measurement from this clock, and other similar clocks around the world, are sent to the Bureau of Weights and Measures outside Paris. The resulting time is accurate to one billionth of a second. It is difficult for us to experience a billionth of a second, but we have reached the place at which we can measure it with machines. Despite all of these things that we do to measure time, we still cannot answer the question of what it is. Some of here wish time would pass faster, some of us wish it would pass slower. Most of us, however, wish we could just create more of it, for it seems there aren’t enough hours in the day. The Psalmist gives us three insights here to help us manage the time in our lives, particularly for those of us who are constantly rushed and in need of more time.
First of all, if there aren’t enough hours in your day, appreciate the value of having time. Our passage says, This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Every moment, every second, every minute, every hour, and every day is a gift from God. It is fashioned and presented to us by God. Some of us may feel less fortunate than other persons around us, but all of us, regardless of our position, our status, our income, or our talents, have the same amount of time. The President of the United States does not have any more time in a day than a trash collector. Have we ever looked at someone’s life and thought, “Wow, I wish I had as much time as he does.” Well, if we had as much time as that person, we would still have the same amount of time. How many times have we said, ”I just don’t have the time to do everything I want to do.” Most of us wish there were a few more hours in every day. I have heard more than one person remark, “Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to sleep? We could accomplish so much more in life!” USA Today asked experts from various fields to chart how much time was necessary to accomplish what we feel are the necessities of everyday life. These experts got together and noted how much time was needed for exercise, hygiene, work, commuting, household chores, eating, entertainment, spiritual development, sleep and family time. When these figures were all added together, the experts determined that each human being needs 42 hours per day! Obviously, we want to do more than we really need to do. The only really essential things in our lives are the things that God wants us to do, and there is always enough time for those things. One of the best illustrations of that truth is the life of our Lord Jesus. He lived only 33 years. Of that 33 years, he only had 3 years to fulfill his ministry and to do what God had called him to do. Still, Jesus said in John 17:4, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. God has a plan for each one of our lives, a work for each one of us to do. God has a way in which he wants it to be done, and God will provide all the time necessary for us to do his will and his work in his way. If there aren’t enough hours in your day, appreciate the value of having time.
Then, if there aren’t enough hours your day, learn the virtue of managing time. Let’s listen to our passage again, This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. The psalmist isn’t talking about yesterday. He doesn’t say, “That was the day the Lord had made…”
The psalmist isn’t talking about tomorrow. He doesn’t say, “That will be the day the Lord will have made…” The psalmist is speaking of today. “This is the day that the Lord has made…” The only day we can enjoy in our entire life is today. We can’t enjoy yesterday, and we can’t enjoy tomorrow. Yesterday is only a memory, tomorrow is only a possibility, but today is a reality. One of the greatest philosophers on life is none other than Yogi Berra. No one manages to have such a unique perspective. Someone once asked him, “Yogi, what time is it?” He answered, “You mean now?” Yogi, by the way, is the same person who was asked about a place in a certain city. He responded, ”Oh, no one ever goes there anymore. It’s just too crowded.” One of the things we need to learn to do everyday is to make the most of moment in which we find ourselves, to focus on the here-and-now. Most of us have tried various ways of saving time, but we really can’t save it. The question is not whether we are saving time, but how we are spending it. One pastor said that when we waste time we are both a thief and a murderer. We are a thief because we are stealing what really belongs to God. We are a murderer because by killing time we are actually killing ourselves. If we are going to manage our time better, we have to realize how valuable it is. The clock is running, and it doesn’t stop.
Want to realize the value of a year? Ask a student who failed a grade.
Want to realize the value of a month? Ask a mother who had a premature baby.
Want to realize the value of a week? Ask the editor of a weekly magazine.
Want to realize the value of an hour? Ask a boyfriend and a girlfriend who only have one hour left on their date.
Want to realize the value of a minute? Ask the guy who just missed his flight.
Want to realize the value of a second? Ask the person who just avoided a car accident.
The point is time is critical. Whatever we really need to do, if it all possible, we should do it today. Want to get ahead in life? Learn to manage your time well. Peter Drucker once said,
“Nothing else perhaps distinguishes effective executives as much as their tender loving care of time…unless he manages himself effectively, no amount of ability, skill, experience, or knowledge will make an executive effective.” When Charles M. Schwab was the president of Bethlehem Steel, he made an appointment with Ivid Lee, a management consultant, and gave him this challenge:’ “Show me a way to get more things done, and if it works I’ll pay you anything within reason.” The date was 1929. Lee handed Schwab a piece of paper. He said, “Write down all the things you have to do tomorrow.” Schwab followed his instructions. He said, “Now number those things in order of their true importance.” Schwab did as he was told. Lee then told him, “The first thing tomorrow morning start working on number one and stick with it until it is completed. Then take number two, and complete. Don’t go to the next number until the previous one is finished. If you don’t get through the list in the day, don’t worry about it. At least you will not have been distracted by things of lesser importance.” He then continued, ”The secret is to do this very thing everyday. Evaluate the importance of the things you have to do, establish priorities, make a plan of action, and stick with it. Do this everyday. After you have convinced yourself of the value of this system, have your men to try it. Test it as long as you like, then send me a check for whatever you think the idea was worth.” Four weeks later Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000. Schwab later said that one lesson was the most profitable he had ever learned in his entire career. Zig Ziglar says, “If you will do what you ought to do when you ought to do it, then you can do what you want to do when you want to do it.” If there aren’t enough hours in the day, learn the virtue of managing time.
Then, if there aren’t enough hours in the day, experience the victory of enjoying time. The Psalmist says, This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. One of the dangers we face is getting so busy doing what we ought to do and what we feel we should do that we don’t really enjoy anything we do. We can become so busy burning our candle at both ends that we never really see the light. The only thing that happens is that we get severely burned.
Whether or not we enjoy today is our decision. Every day is a God-given day. Every day is to be a God-governed day. Every day can be a God-gladdened day. When we spend time rejoicing in the Lord, in his grace, and in his promises, everything in our day goes so much better. We’ve all heard the saying, ”Time flies when you are having fun!” It’s better for time to fly having fun that it is for time to crawl being miserable. The choice is yours. I read this last week about a man who went to an appointment with his doctor. The doctor told him, “I have some terrible news for you. You have a terminal illness and only have six months left to live.” The man said, “Well doc, is there anything you can do for me?” The doctor said, “No, there is nothing I can do, there is no cure.” In desperation the man said, “Well doctor, is there anything you could recommend that might my time longer or more enjoyable?” The doctor responded, “Well, let me advise you to do this. Go find a mean, fat, ugly woman who has at least six kids and marry her. Then move to West Texas and find a farm and buy it. Then buy 100 of the most foul smelling pigs you can find and raise them.” The man said, “Doc, let me make sure I understand. I’m to go marry a mean, fat, ugly woman with at least six kids, buy a farm in the middle of West Texas, and then buy 100 stinking pigs to raise. Is that right?” The doctor said, “That’s right.” The man said, “Doc, will that make me live longer and be happy?” The doctor said, “No, but it will be the longest six months of your entire life!” All time is really short, although under certain circumstances it may seem very long.
It’s important that we make the most of the time we have. We need to realize that if we are not a Christian, if we have never met Jesus Christ, the only day we can be saved is today. We can’t be saved tomorrow, we can only be saved today. There will be no time so long and so agonizing as an eternity without Jesus Christ. Right now, at this very moment, make the decision to invite him into your heart and life.