SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON/What Time Is It?
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 1:00 PM
"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do." (John 17:4)
Everyone around me that day seemed to be in a hurry. They just appeared to be driven by a greater sense of urgency to get wherever it was they were going than I possessed at the moment. I mean, I was moving along at a very respectable speed myself, thinking that everyone else should have been more than satisfied simply to keep pace with me. But that was not the case, for cars and trucks were passing me on both sides, whipping by at what seemed to be the speed of sound. I actually found myself waiting for a sonic boom to suddenly rock the vehicle at any moment.
While I continued to be buffeted by passing motorists, I began to ponder the value of time and the many cultural expressions we have regarding it, such as: 'killing time,' 'biding one's time,' 'time marches on,' or 'time waits for no man.' We speak of something happening 'in due time' or of something being used 'to save time' (as if that were possible). I began to reflect upon my own life and wondered if I was using my time wisely or squandering it away. Someone once said that "Tomorrow is the day when idlers work, and fools reform, and mortal men lay hold on heaven." Was I a procrastinator? Was I like Scarlett, the character in Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, who argued that she would wait until the next day to deal with a problematic matter, saying; "After all, tomorrow is another day?" Was I like that?
I find it quite convicting to see in Jesus such a passion to be occupied fully with the work the Father had given unto Him, making full use of the time which had been granted. Earlier he had told His disciples, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work." (John 4:34) Jesus was very much conscious of the work which had necessitated the incarnation and He gave Himself wholeheartedly to it, allowing nothing to slow His steady march toward the accomplishing of all the Father had given Him to do. Now, should we, the servants of Christ, not also possess a kindred attitude with respect to our own use of time? Have we not also been given work to do?
A. W. Tozer wrote; "the man who would know God must give time to Him." How much time? How many years? Are the answers to those questions not the unique prerogative of our Lord and Maker? Thinking thusly, would we not do well to consider our grave onus to make the most of every moment of the time God allots us? After all, as Paul Meyer said, "most time is wasted, not in hours, but in minutes." Is Christ not worthy of our minutes?
Well, as I continued to make my way along the highway-turned-racetrack, my mind became preoccupied with these matters. Here I was nearing the ripe old age of sixty, rapidly approaching the completion of most of the 'three score and ten' of which the Scriptures speak, and what had I accomplished? What more could I have done? What vast amount of work might I have fulfilled by now had I only made better use of my time? I remember someone saying, "Each of us has just enough time to accomplish whatever it is that the Lord has for us to do." Did I believe that, and if so, had I done my work? And perhaps more importantly, since I was obviously still alive and kicking, what more did the Lord have for me to do in my remaining years?
Robert Murray M'Cheyne was a minister in Scotland and later served as a missionary to the Jews in Palestine. For nearly all the years of his short life he was plagued with a number of illnesses that proved to be a constant challenge for him. But M'Cheyne was one of those rare individuals who seemed to be obsessed with the need to cram into his day as much labor for Christ as his weakened body could possible handle. His life resembled a candle burning at both ends as he drove himself in a pursuit of holiness and the fulfillment of his task. Listen to something he wrote: "If God be glorified, is not this our utmost desire? Oh, it is sweet, when in prayer we can lay ourselves and all our interests, along with Zion, in the hands of Him whom we feel to be Abba! And if we are thus tied ourselves in the same bundle with Zion, we must resign all right to ourselves and to our wishes. May the Lord open up a way to His name being widely glorified on earth even before we die!" M'Cheyne spend his days as in the shadow of death, and therefore, he gave himself to those matters which he deemed to be of utmost value and critical importance. 'Christ first and foremost' was his goal and to his dying breath he remained faithful to that commitment.
So now, how is it with you? How much time do you have? Days? Months? Years? You have as much time as you need - to do whatever it is that God, your Father, has for you to do! What is it that remains for you to do? What ministry would He have you launch in these your latter years? What contribution to the overall work of the Kingdom might He have for you to make? Which lost soul might He intend to bring to a saving hearing of the Gospel of grace, by having you go and speak a word of loving witness to them? Don't squander your time! Don't condone the flittering away of even a single moment of it, but "be faithful unto death" for a crown of life awaits you.
The Rev. Donald Caviness is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, MS.