Each of us gets to decide if we will focus on what we already have or if we will focus on what we lack. The attitude of abundant life concentrates on what we already have, resulting in gratitude. However, even the most grateful of us is apt to approach time with an attitude of scarcity. Do you ever feel as though you do not have enough time? If I can remember that the Lord is in charge of everything, even time, then I am more likely not to waste time and energy worrying about what I do not have. Instead I will work with what I do have to do what the Lord wants.
The first 8 verses of the Old Testament book Ecclesiastes remind us that we in fact do have time:
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
The following poem/prayer from Michael Quoist, (French Catholic Priest, theologian and writer) shares the same sentiment.
LORD, I HAVE TIME
I went out Lord.
Men were coming and going,
Walking and running.
Everything was rushing: cars, trucks, the street, the whole town.
Men were rushing not to waste time.
They were rushing after time,
To catch up with time,
To gain time.
Good-bye, Sir, excuse me, I haven’t time.
I’ll come back, I can’t wait, I haven’t time.
I must end this letter-I haven’t time.
I’d love to help you, but I haven’t time.
I can’t accept, having no time.
I can’t think, I can’t read. I’m swamped, I haven’t time.
I’d like to pray, but I haven’t time.
You understand, Lord, they simply haven’t the time.
The child is playing, he hasn’t time right now…Later on…
The schoolboy has his homework to do, he hasn’t time…Later on…
The student has his courses, and so much work…Later on…
The young man is at his sports, he hasn’t time…Later on…
The grandparents have their grandchildren. They haven’t time…Later on…
They are ill, they have their treatments, they haven’t time…Later on…
They are dying, they have no…
Too late! … They have not more time!
And so all men run after time, Lord.
They pass through life running – hurried, jostled, overburdened, frantic, and they never get there. They haven’t time.
In spite of all their efforts they’re still short of time.
Of a great deal of time.
Lord, you must have made a mistake in your calculations.
There is a big mistake somewhere.
The hours are too short.
The days are too short.
Our lives are too short.
You who are beyond time, Lord, you smile to see us fighting it.
And you knew what you were doing.
You make no mistakes in your calculations of time to men.
You give each one time to do what you want him to do.
But we must not lose time
For time is a gift that you give us,
But a perishable gift,
A gift that does not keep.
Lord, I have of time.
I have plenty of time.
All the time that you give me,
The years of my life,
The days of my years,
The hours of my days,
They are all mine.
Mine to fill, quietly, calmly,
But to fill completely, up to the brim,
To offer them to you, that of their insipid water
You may make a rich wine such as you made once in Cana of Galilee.
I am not asking you tonight, Lord, for time to do this and then that,
But your grace to do conscientiously, in the time that you give me, what you want me to do.1
Abundant life begins with the realization that what we need is provided to us by God, including time. The most valuable thing we will do with any of today’s hours is to seek and acknowledge Him. If he is able to control time, he is also capable of taking care of all our other needs. When the apostle Peter wanted to encourage Christians who were experiencing severe persecution, he told them, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life.” (2 Peter 1:3). This knowledge motivates us to action rather than promoting lethargy. We find ourselves freed from worry and released to focus on the task at hand, whatever that may be – even doing the dishes. Each of us only gets 24 hours a day, 168 hours each week regardless of zip code or stock portfolio. The question to answer is not where we can get more time, but how can we best use the time which has been given to us.
1. Prayers by Michael Quoist, Sheed & Ward, Inc. 1963
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