At times the natural world displays awesome power. Think about the overwhelming force unleashed during a hurricane, tornado, flood, or tsunami. These tragic events wreak havoc when they occur in locations inhabited by people and property. We are indeed fortunate that such events occur on a relatively infrequent basis.
The incredible force of storms notwithstanding, their impact cannot compare with the power wielded by time. At precise and predictable intervals the sun rises, runs its course, sets, and another day has come and gone. No matter how humans try to stop its advance, time marches on. We cannot stop or reverse time. It simply moves on one day at a time.
According to observable and recorded history, as well as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, time tends to break things down. After being established things tend to grow, reach an optimal stage, and then start to deteriorate. Humans experience this process as aging. The longer we live, the less strength, energy, and stamina we tend to have.
Many people see time and aging in a negative light. We all know we’ll one day die, and at a certain point we start losing abilities that we’ve enjoyed for a long time. If you think about it, however, the advance of time can also be beneficial and positive as long as you know how to harness it.
How do you harness time? The secret is to see hours and days not as things that pass and are lost, but as opportunities to achieve something beneficial. Without planning time can be wasted, and yet with planning and a little effort it’s amazing what can be accomplished. For example, if you choose to study the basics of a foreign language for two hours per week, you’ll likely get pretty good at it within several months. After this, spending just 20 minutes a day building your vocabulary and listening to native speakers use the language will slowly add to your proficiency. Within a year you may not be fluent, yet you’ll likely know enough to get by pretty well.
The same can be said for exercise, research, acquiring a technical skill, etc. It even works with saving money. If every time you get paid you put a small amount aside on a regular basis, you’ll have quite a sum at the end of a year. When I was young I worked at a bank. At that time customers had the option of opening what was called a Christmas Club. In January they were given a book with about 48 coupons in it. At the beginning of the process the customer chose the amount he or she could afford each week. When they cashed their weekly paycheck, they would hand the book over with, say $20.00. A page would be torn out by the bank employee, and the book would be stamped. After almost a year of saving in this way, in early December the customer would be given a check for almost $1,000 to spend on Christmas gifts.
Harnessing time doesn’t seem to come natural to humans. It takes thought, planning, and patience. One important aspect involves balance. For example, if at the beginning of the Christmas Club a customer chose a plan that required him or her to set aside $100 per week, they would learn pretty quickly how difficult that can be to maintain. They had great plans to save almost $5,000 for Christmas, yet didn’t really think things through concerning the cost. They would end up closing the account pretty quickly.
Balance is needed in any attempt to harness time. With enough time set aside each day, after a year you might learn three foreign languages, lose fifty pounds, and master Adobe Photoshop. The problem is that trying to accomplish too much while also living your normal daily life would be exhausting. Trying to accomplish too much will burn you out. And yet, it’s likely that with good planning and a little effort you could accomplish one or two worthwhile things by harnessing time.
One key to harnessing time well is to set priorities. My highest priority is to please God. Realizing that the best way to know what pleases God is through knowing His Word and through prayer, many years ago I chose to set aside some time each morning for slowly working my way through the Bible and for prayer. I start by confessing any known sin and seeking forgiveness. I then thank God for his blessings, and move on to praying for those I love and for other concerns. I then ask for guidance and open the Bible expecting to grow closer to God through it. This has been life-changing for me over the years, and it continues to this day. I have a long way to go, yet I can say that I am closer to God now than I was a year ago. My aim is to keep moving in the right direction.
Another small way to harness time is to ensure you set time aside to spend with those you love. As you get older and look back, it’s likely that you’ll never regret the time spent in this way. Are there other beneficial ways you can think of to harness time?
As you consider harnessing time in some way, remember to never let guilt enter into the equation. Guilt is a very poor motivator, and a very good task master. Let your priorities set your time-harnessing plans, have a good balance, and make sure you enjoy it. Harness time in ways that benefit you, and help those you love.
In Psalm 90:12 Moses cries out to God with the words, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Harnessing the awesome power of time for good is a great way to use time well while we walk this earth. The very best part, however, is knowing that those who trust in Christ for salvation will one day enter into God’s presence. The moment we do so we will no longer be subject to time. We will have eternity to enjoy God. What a day of rejoicing that will be!