Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Time

Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Psalm 90:12 (TNIV)

As is true of all passages, this petition to God is best understood in its immediate context (Psalm 90, which we won't be doing here) and out from that in other contexts. The numbering of days seems to involve not just the quantity of them, but their quality as well. What we are doing with the time that we have. (see Marvin E. Tate, Word Biblical Commentary: Psalms 51-100)

Time is part of creation that we exist in. The sun rising, the day, the sun setting, the night; our clocks, watches and calendars are a constant reminder to us of time. We know by experience that our time on earth can be cut short. People, for a number of reasons go "before their time". One of the number of healthy teachings in Ecclesiastes is the accepting of our mortality. That each day, each moment is a gift from God. And that only if the Lord wills, will we do this or that at any future time.

As I near my fiftieth birthday, I do think more about time. About the decades I've lived. And about the few decades that may be ahead. As well as increasingly coming to terms with my mortality.

I think I've learned to slow down. Don't try to beat time. Live in it. Use time for what's really important. They say "time is money." There surely is a proverbial wisdom in that (Proverbs itself seems to say the same). Time like everything else from God is a gift to be used. For loving God. And loving our neighbor as ourselves.

A first use of our time must be to work at our relationship with God and seek his renewal of our souls. That comes for me in Bible reading and simple prayers. When I let up on that as a kind of pattern, then all else suffers. And that helps me get back in line to see that this is where my true life and help is found.

A favorite use of time for me is to be with my little family. Around the supper table. And just being together, whatever we are doing. And I'm learning to appreciate time with others, as church, which is also important for the renewal of our souls. And wanting more time, God help me, with those around us in our neighborhoods, where we live.

Through my good team leader at work, Mike, God has taught me the importance of relationships over the work process itself. I'm still learning. Our time and the use we make of it is only as good as the relationships we foster (make, build and maintain) in it.

To see God's kingdom having come and coming in Jesus is to have a sense of urgency as to being involved in works of that kingdom. These works are valuable in and of themselves as expressions of love for God and love for our neighbor. Jesus talked about that with reference to harvest fields. Ripe and ready. But few workers. And the night coming when no one can work. Paul said that the time is short and that the gifts we use we must not become engrossed in, since this present existence is passing away. What lasts in God's kingdom in Jesus is what we need to be about.

Father, Thank you for the gift of time, for all the time you give us. Let us enjoy it as those who use it well. For the renewal of our souls before you. That we might love you back, and truly love our neighbor as ourselves. Amen.

2 comments:

Diane L. Courtney said...

I'll be turning thirty this Friday, and I'm lucky that God has allowed me to make it to see my 30th birthday. I've had a lot of struggles with my health in the past, and there were a couple of times where I didn't make it. He thought differently, and I'm here and happy for it. God only gives us the hardships to make us stronger. I'm thankful to Him for giving me wonderful parents, a great brother, a sweet nephew, and wonderful friends. I'm thankful for the time that I have in this beautiful world, and I'm thankful for the time that has yet to come.

Ted Gossard said...

Diane,

Amen sister. Thanks for sharing that. We all need to see and acknowledge God's goodness in our lives as you have here.