On the face of the grandfather clock that stands in my living room are the Latin words, Tempus Fugit, which translated into English means Time Flies. Someone has added to that, “Time flies when you’re having fun.” The fact is time flies whether you are having fun or not.
I was reminded just how fast time flies while watching the half-pipe competition at the Beijing Olympics on television last night. The main attraction of the night was 35-year-old Shaun White vying for his fourth Olympic gold medal. I’ve been following Shaun since his “Flying Tomato” days, and now he’s 35. How did that happen? Tempus Fugit.
I recently retired from 45 years of vocational pastoral ministry and have been deeply pondering those years of service to Christ and His Church. I entered ministry as a youth pastor in 1977 and thought I would always be a youth pastor because Hal Lindsey and Chuck Smith told me that Jesus was coming very soon. And now, at 70 years of age, looking back on those 45 years of ministry, I stand in wonder at just how fast those years have gone by. And the adage, “Jesus is Coming Soon” rings with a different tone, knowing that I have more years behind me than in front of me and I will see Jesus sooner than I can possibly imagine.
Following his ordination ceremony in 1950, A.W. Tozer drew aside, by himself for a time of prayer. That prayer has been published under the title of The Prayer of a Minor Prophet. Within the prayer are a couple of curious lines that relate to my subject today. “He prayed, “Let me not waste my days puttering around the house, deliver me from overeating and late sleeping.”
Let me not waste my days! My friends, our world is filled with things that are a waste of time, things that pull us away from fruitful endeavors, things that will never be remembered in eternity. Someone has stated this idea very well in the quote, “Only one life, it will soon be past, only that done for Christ will last.” One day, I will not only will I leave my stuff behind, I will also leave a legacy, was my life about me or about Him, my Lord and my Redeemer?
American Patriot/Inventor/Philosopher, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.”
The sentiment found in the words of both Tozer and Franklin, also filled the heart of the Apostle Paul, who wrote, “Make the most of your time because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
I am more aware than ever that this life is but a warmup lap for the main event. The writer of James reminds us that our lives are but a vapor, like the steam rising from kettle of boiling water, you see it and then it vanishes (James 4:14). This was echoed by the Psalm when he said that our days are like grass, flourishing one moment, shriveled, and gone the next (Psalm 103:15).
Back to the Olympics, I am amazed at the years of dedication and discipline that the athletes have put into the honing their crafts, when the events themselves, last but a few minutes at most. For those who have put their trust in Christ, and have discipline their lives to live for Him and His glory, the main event is going to last forever.
So, in whatever days I have left on this earth, the cry of my soul, the prayer of my heart is, “Lord, teach me to number my days, that I might present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). And, until that day, “…may the very spring of my actions be the love of Christ.” (II Corinthians 5:14, J.B. Philipps Translation).