THE MOST INDEPENDENT CURRENCY
J. R. Jayabalan
Despite all efforts by our economists, the divide between the rich and the poor is an ever widening phenomenon in our country and all over the world. The difference is big, and in some countries the yawning gap is incredible. In this, the possession of currency and its value is the deciding factor.
Yet, there is a currency which is in everyone's possession in equal measure. This currency is not governed by the laws of exchange rates and we cannot exert any influence on its quantum. This currency is called 'time' - the most independent and at the same time the most invaluable currency. Once this currency runs out, no one can get it back or replace it.
Everyone has said, 'I have no time'. Is that true? This casual expression has become an escape-word. The right expression would be, "I cannot invest my time in this or that." But whoever does not have time is dead and unfit for life. So many marriages and families become 'dead' as people have no time for each other and, above all, for God. Time is past, present and future - all in one. Day by day we subject ourselves repeatedly to the dictates of the clock and rush from one appointment to another. But have we become any bit happier?
Napoleon Bonaparte has aptly said, "There are thieves whom the law courts cannot convict, though they steal the costliest 'treasure' from people, 'time'. "We cram as much as possible into our daily routine. Often we ourselves are responsible for our time-delusion, eventually becoming its victim. At the end of the day we discover that we have not won a single minute; in fact we have lost our time.
The following schedule shows the average time distribution in the life of a person: sleep 24 years and 4 months, watching TV 5 years and 6 months, chatting 2 years and 10 months, driving 2 years and 6 months, traffic congestion 6 months, coffee break 8 weeks, prayer only 2 weeks! What is your life's balance-sheet?
Let us look at the two main culprits that steal our time.
Losing time is not an exclusive problem of the modern times. Even in the Bible there are reports of how people lost time. Take the example of the Israelites. They were led out of Egypt in a miraculous way by God, and they experienced miracle after miracle. They could have quickly entered the Promised Land; but they had to wander 40 years in the wilderness due to their disobedience (Num.14:33-34). A large part of the people who departed out of Egypt did not live to enter the Promised Land (Num.14:22-23;Deut.2:14). How many years have we lost because we went our own way rather than God's?
Even in the Bible times there were people who passed their time with worthless and meaningless activities. The Book of Acts refers to the favourite pastime of the Athenians: all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing but talking about or learning something new (Acts.17:21).
How often we have lived listlessly through the day, and then suddenly woken up to realise that we have already lost something precious! Well, I'm not against pastime per se, but we do need to be conscious of our time and use it meaningfully. May we do something good in the 'time' that God has given to us so that it does not slip through unused. We cannot get back a single hour that has gone by. Therefore, let us trust God to help us plan and invest our time wisely.
The Gift Of Time
Who can gift time? Only the One who holds time in His hand. God is the Lord over time and it is He who has gifted it to us to invest wisely in this world. Time was His idea. "My times are in your hands" (Psa.31:15). God holds time in His hand. He demonstrated it to Joshua. "The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day (Josh.10:12-14). The Lord was gracious to Joshua and gifted him that day and gave him victory over his enemies.
Today we too can testify to the fact that it is the Lord who gifts us time. That may not always happen in a spectacular way, as in the case of Joshua. There are small things in life we often overlook. An appointment is cancelled; another takes away the job although that person was not the one who was sought for; suddenly the key leaders of your organisation lose the ‘vision’ and you are forced to exit. But time tells us that it was God who intervened thus in our life. The Lord gifts us not only the minute or the day, but also a lifetime. The Bible narrative tells about King Hezekiah who received an extraordinary gift. From the medical point of view he was a candidate for death. The Lord gifted him 15 more years (2Kgs.20:1-6). Isn't it wonderful? Sometimes people have to spend a million rupees for an additional year, or a month or even a day!
We worry about our future and in the process forget about our present. Why worry about the future when it accomplishes nothing worthwhile? "…by being anxious, can we add a single hour to our span of life?" (Matt.6:27). The Bible admonishes us to trust God and use our time wisely, for we are living in the 'end times.'
Redeem The Time
"Redeeming the time (making the most of every opportunity), because the days are evil" (Eph.5:16). We must be released from our time constraints and trust in the Lord. God does not turn back the clock's hands but adjusts our orientation anew. In our present times the call is to redeem the time.
Certainly we need not be stingy with our time. Till the Lord Jesus returns to take away His bride, perhaps sooner than later, we must make the best use of the available time to reach people with the message of repentance and salvation. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promises, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2Pet.3:9). Colossians 4:5-6 says, "Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person."
We must be faithful witnesses to Jesus Christ in word, in action, and in the time that God has given us. The ways and the methods in which we serve God may differ from person to person. However, when everyone places his or her time at the disposal of God, He will make something great out of it. We need not lose energy in our struggle against time, but rather live with the confidence that God will give us the time for all that He wants to accomplish through us. Let us begin at once to organise our time and manage our millions. May the Lord Jesus Christ give us the needed wisdom to do this. "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom" (Psa.90:12).