The Sacredness Of Time
Many years ago, Carl Sandburg wrote a four volume work on the life of Abraham Lincoln. In it he records an unusual story. One night when Abraham Lincoln was getting ready to go out to deliver a lecture, he stopped in front of the hall mirror in his home. He saw a double reflection of himself. He asked his wife to give an interpretation as to what this double reflection could mean and she said your life is going to experience great triumph and then great tragedy. Your life is just a question of time. For all of us on this earth our life is just a question of time.
If you breakdown all the things that are important to us for a natural existence, such as the water we drink or the earth we share or the air we breathe, you can very easily put into that category this precious commodity of time. When you think, of time in a span of 60,70 or 80 years, we easily forget that so much of our time is really not totally under our control. For example, if you take seven or eight hours per day out of each day for just basic sleep, if you consider the time that you spend in working and eating or even standing in line for something you need, you soon find out that out of the 1440 minutes God has given to each one of us per day so much of that 1440 minutes is associated with things external to us, but not really our own personal time.
In the book of Ecclesiastes we are reminded that we have a time to be born and a time to die. Then it goes on to indicate the various things that preoccupy our daily life and still we come up short when it comes to having lengthy personal time for ourselves. A time to pray, a time to think, a time to meditate, oftentimes these are very elusive periods in our life. If you study the teachings of Jesus Christ quite closely you might recall that he spent the vast majority of his life in periods of prayer, meditation and contemplation. All that we fundamentally know is that his public ministry was about three years in existence. Christ taught us the value of a hidden life, a hidden life that should be filled with moments of prayer and meditation so that we can deepen our personal relationship with God.
Every one of us has justification for the schedule we keep and the work we perform. But if that schedule prevents us from developing a closer relationship with God while we are on this earth, then we are paying a very high price. If you study the Lord's prayer, Christ makes is very clear when he said give us this day our daily bread, it was a reminder to each one of us that literally all we have is today. Yesterday was history, tomorrow is mystery, today is reality. Each one, even though we talk about living 70 or 80 or even more years, each one on a daily basis is given 1440 minutes. God is very democratic on this point. Whether you are rich or poor, in good health or in poor health, every one gets the same 1440 minutes. If we take the quotation from the book of Ecclesiastes we can modernize it by saying each day is an opportunity to show more forgiveness, more kindness, more compassion and love. When you do that on a daily basis and then multiply it by the 60, 70 or 80 years you are on this earth, whether you realize it or not, you have developed a solid foundation of spirituality that deepens your personal relationship with God.
Whether you are talking to children or to adults, the same question is always being asked. Where is the time going? There is a beautiful passage in the life of the writer known as Talmage and the passage goes something like this: "We live but once. The years of childhood, when once past, are past for ever. It matters not how ardently we may wish to live them over; it avails us nothing. So it is with the other stages of life. The past is no longer ours. It has gone beyond our reach. What we have made it, it shall remain. There is no power on heaven or on earth that can change it. The record of our past stands forth in bold and in ineffaceable characters, open to the all-seeing eye of God. There it stands, and one day we shall give an account of it. The present moment alone is ours. Today is a day which we never had before, which we shall never have again. It rose from the great ocean of eternity, and again sinks into its unfathomable depths."
One of the greatest things we can do for ourselves during this new century, during this new year, is to recognize the preciousness and the sacredness of this commodity that we call time.
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