The Stewardship of the Gift of Time is one that many of us take rather lightly in the twenty-first century. And yet, this Gift is above all, directly connected with our gift of Life. This week, as we celebrate and honor those who have dedicated a portion of their time to our United States of America, the Veterans of the armed forces, let us examine just how we utilize the Gift of time in our lives.
Our very lives on this earth are limited—which means that our time on this earth is limited. The limitation of the Gift of Time allows us to appreciate joyful events even more through anticipation and expectation. The Gift of Time allows us to heal from the sadness and grief of loss. The Gift of Time allows us to appreciate and love our families in different ways as we all grow together. The Gift of Time allows us to have the opportunity to partake of this life, so that we may know what it means to partake in God. As the writer of Ecclesiastes reminds us, “For everything there is a season; a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclasiasticus 3:1).
What do we do with this Gift? Often, we take it for granted. We act as if this time in this life is our own—that we can do with it as we please. We act as if we were the ones who bestowed this gift of time—but as Christ said, “And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life?”Matthew 6:27. Neither anxiety, nor any other means at our disposal can create more time for us. So why do we spend this, our most valuable asset in connection with our lives, so frivolously? Why do we dedicate more of this gift to money, to soccer practice, watching television, and any other possible pursuit, than to God? Why do we refuse to turn to God giving thanks for our time by offering it back to Him?
It isn’t until we are faced with some sort of turmoil or tribulation that we turn to God, calling to mind the words of the psalmist, “The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble” (Psalms 9:9). Yes, He is a stronghold, a refuge and a haven, but He has also called us to “bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
God has graciously bestowed upon us the entirety of our lives. But for many of us, taking such a macro-level understanding of time is difficult. So let us break it down: He has blessed us with 168 hours per week (or roughly a little more than 10,000 minutes/week). How many of these 168 hours do we offer to Him? Including our drive to and from Church, I am willing to bet that our weekly offering of our time to God barely even comes to seven hours! Does this mean that we are not thankful for the Gift of Time which He has given us so freely? I cannot know. What I can know is that our actions certainly do not reflect a thankful attitude.
Now is the time for us to dedicate our actions to reflect our thankfulness! Now is the time to review and revisit our priorities as a family and as a Church community so that they reflect our attitude and awareness toward God. Now is the time to come to Church ON TIME and show God that we do not disrespect Him. Now is the time to participate not just in the Sunday Liturgy, but in the services throughout the week. (How many of us take time off from work to go to a doctor’s appointment, but refuse to do so for one of the Twelve Great Feast Days?) Now is the time to join in our Parish Adult Education program—and continue our study of the Lord. Now is the time to begin reading the Holy Scriptures on a regular basis. Now is the time to show God by our actions that we are truly grateful for the Grace-filled Gift of His time.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time; also he has put eternity into man’s mind, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiasticus 3:11). He has placed within us a hint of eternity—and not the full ability to understand it—so that we might be able to grasp in some fashion what it means to be with Him in worshipful Joy. Let us take the remaining time we have in this world so that we might be prepared for the Awe-inspiring and Loving Joy that we encounter in His Kingdom!