Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
May 1, 2011
There is so much to do – if I only had the time
At age 79 I realize that I am running out of time. Now and then I recall the words Auburn football play-by-play announcer Jim Fyffe used when signing off a broadcast, “My time is up; I thank you for yours.” Jim was a good friend and his time was up all too soon, at age 57.
Time is an interesting word. We speak of “our time,” meaning these years in which we are alive. We say time is fleeting; life seems to move so swiftly from the cradle to the grave. Yet when we are bored we speak of having time on our hands; the hours drag by. The hands on the clock seem never to move.
The use of time is so important. Since we cannot know how much we have left it behooves us to use every day wisely. The Apostle Paul understood this. In appealing to his friends in Rome, he said, “This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).
Sometimes it takes a tornado or an earthquake to wake us up, to face the reality that time is running out. One day it runs out for every one of us. The average of death is still one to a person. Our days are numbered and the number of days remaining may be very few. We do well to wake up.
I was reminded of this when I came across a piece my wife Dean had written a few years back. She began by describing a scene in our yard but I will let her tell the story:
“As I stood admiring the sapling I had just planted my son Tim, a forester, drove up. I asked him if he thought I had planted the small tree too close to the house. He stood silent for a few moments and then with a twinkle in his eyes he said, ‘Mom, you don’t have enough time left for that tree to be a problem. Someone else can cut it down if it gets too large after you are gone.’
“His answer surprised me but then we both laughed. He was right. It takes a long time for a little sapling to grow into a tree, and I probably don’t have that much time left in this world. Since that day I have pondered a lot about the time I do have left. One of my favorite songs is titled, ‘If I Only Had Time.’ The songwriter longs for more time when he says, ‘So much to do if I only had time – there are mountains to climb if I only had time.’
“I understand that feeling. There are many things I know I don’t have time to do. I may never sit in the shade of the great tree that sapling will become, or climb great mountains. What, then, can I do?
“Time is so precious! I must use carefully what time remains for me. If I am wise, I will use my time to praise God continually, pray without ceasing, and love others constantly. While breath remains I can seek to be a good friend and love my friends and my family. I can give thanks to God daily for the gifts of life, love, and laughter. I can live one day at a time being the best that I can be.”
Dean summed up well my own feeling about time. Knowing that my time is running out, I surely do not want to waste a single moment. That is so easy to do – to kick back, put my mind in neutral, and ignore the good that I could do if I were willing. So if I am wise I will seize myself by the nap of my neck, rise up, and make the most of the days and hours that remain.
Dean’s prayer seems a good way to conclude this discourse: “Lord, help me not waste the precious time you give me. Fill me with the constant impulse to praise you, to pray, and to love. Deliver me from anxiety about the brevity of my life and grant me the quiet peace that springs from knowing that my times are in your hands. Thank you giving me your time, to hear my prayer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” + + +