About Time

About Time

By Dr. Curt Brannan

 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

(Ephesians 5:15-17 ESV)

 Do you ever take time to think about time?  As I write we have just stepped across the threshold into what we call the New Year. And about now, I return each year to consider again the gift of time God has given me and think again about its importance. So if you will, take a moment to think with me about time.

Clocks and Calendars

What we call time is both personal and general.  We usually think of time in terms of minutes, hours, days, etc.  This is the idea of time that views it as ticking away, second by second, marking the knife edge between past and future with what we call “now”. We use this “clock and calendar” concept of time to provide reference points that help as we move through our lives.  For instance, they help us know when we are to be at school, go to the doctor, or not miss a reservation for dinner. Now the Greeks used a special word, “chronos”, for this sort of time. From it we get a word often used for very accurate watches and clocks:  chronometers.

Life and Content

But, time is more than just the ticking of the clock or turning of calendar pages. We also think of time in more personal ways.  The Greeks acknowledged this by using a different word. This word, “kairos”, is one that considers time in terms of its content. I still remember the special days when my wife and I were married and when each of our children were born.  For many those dates have little if any meaning, but for us they are filled with special memories and blessings from God. It is the content that gives these days meaning and importance, not markers on some calendar grid. You can see that this sort of time is very personal. It is defined by that which fills the moment. And in one sense, this view of time is more important than the clock/calendar view.  We may say something like, “Remember that time we . . .” and identify a period in our lives when some memorable event took place.  We need not put a sequence marker (i.e. a date) with it, because it is marked by what we did in the process of living.

Now consider that the ticking of the clock is something over which we have absolutely no control. The clock moves on for everyone – king or peasant, rich or poor, powerful or unimportant. But, what fills our personal time can be controlled.  We fill and mark it indelibly forever by what we put into it.  The importance of a year is, after all, not the days or months represented by the calendar, but the content by which it’s defined.

Opportunity to Invest

It is inevitable! A new year will come again!  The clock will tick— we can neither hold it back nor hurry it along;  but, we can stuff it full!  We can set out to fill up the new year with things that truly count.

When he wrote to the Ephesian church, the Apostle Paul gave this challenge: Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time . . . (Ephesians 5:15 ESV).  The KJV says, “redeeming the time.” Here he uses the word “kairos.”  The idea is simply that time is something into which we invest, in this way freeing it from the empty tick of the clock and filling it with content that has meaning and substance. Unfortunately, time may be lived with indifference, given to whatever presses in at the moment or filled with useless stuff that has no ultimate value, significance or meaning.

I tend to think of the new year as a “stuff sack” (the kind you stuff full of important things on a backpack trip). God has given us this precious gift to fill with the fullness of life. Regardless of our circumstance, we hold it in our hands and day after day fill it with the “stuff” of our lives.  What we put into it gives meaning to the moment and is what we finally have to show for the trip.  Paul’s admonition simply stated would be something like, “God has blessed you with life. Live in touch with that reality. Stuff your time full of that which will rescue it from empty uselessness.”

A new package of time is open before us.  It is a gift from God and full of possibility.  We obviously aren’t in control of everything we will experience this year, but whatever comes we can choose to invest in what counts, “making the most of the time”. My prayer for our GCA family is that the Lord will find us filling our “kairos” with things that please Him. May we never treat what God has set before us as insignificant or allow it to pass by as only the unrelenting “tick” of the clock.   The year ahead presents us with new opportunity into which we may invest.  Let us endow it with what is memorable, meaningful and worthy of His glory.