by Dale Reeves
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, the little hobbit Frodo Baggins, entrusted with carrying the iconic ring, lamented, “I wish it need not have happened in my time.”
“So do I,” said Gandalf the wizard, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that has been given us.”
You probably spent a fair amount of hours in 2020 and in the first few months of 2021 contemplating what to do with your time as certain options for spending your time were taken off the table. You couldn’t attend big parties or concerts or sporting events, you ate out at restaurants less frequently, and you spent more time at home thinking about what you were going to watch on the tube. Someone in our church just said to me this past week, “You know we thought 2020 was going to go really slow with the shelter-in-place and lockdown mandates. Actually, looking back on the year as I did my taxes last week, I said to my wife, ‘Where did the year go? It went by so fast.’”
You may or may not agree with that sentiment. One thing is for sure: Time waits for no one, except maybe the biblical character Joshua (see Joshua 10:12-14).
This coming Sunday it is time once again for us to “Spring Forward” and set our clocks ahead one hour. We call it “daylight saving time” (DST), not plural “savings time,” as some people refer to it. The idea originated with Englishman William Willett on an early-morning horseback ride around the desolate outskirts of London in 1905. He felt that the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by eighty minutes between April and October so that more people could enjoy the sunlight. It took World War I for Willett’s dream to come true. On April 30, 1916, Germany embraced the idea to conserve electricity, and weeks later the United Kingdom followed suit and introduced “summer time.”
Contrary to popular opinion, American farmers did not lobby for daylight saving time to have more time to work in their fields. The idea was first implemented in America in March 1918 as a wartime measure. Some states and cities practiced the forwarding of their clocks in the spring, but it was far from universal across our country. For the next forty-some years, there was a confusing hodgepodge of practices among the states referred to by Time magazine in 1963 as “a chaos of clocks.” This caused widespread confusion, especially for trains, buses, airlines, and the broadcasting industry.
It wasn’t until the Uniform Time Act in 1966 that a standardized system was enacted, though states still had the option of remaining on standard time year-round. Today in our country, forty-eight states “spring forward” and “fall back,” with the exception of Hawaii and Arizona—although that state’s Navajo Nation does participate in this time change system. This helps them stay in sync with their territory extending into Utah and New Mexico. Additionally, many of the U.S. territories also remain on standard time year-round. Around the world, only about one-quarter of the world’s population, in approximately seventy countries, observe daylight saving. Since their daylight hours don’t vary much from season to season, countries closer to the equator have little need to deviate from standard time.
Redeem the Time
Even though you may wake up this Sunday morning perhaps a little more groggy than usual due to losing an hour of sleep Saturday night, what else will be different in your life this coming week? What will you do with that extra hour of daylight that you will get?
The apostle Paul challenges us in Ephesians 5:15-17, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (ESV).
He also instructs us in Colossians 4:2, 5, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. . . . Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time” (ESV).
The rap/rock trio known as dc Talk released the song “Time Is” in 1992 on their breakthrough Free at Last album. I still love this song almost thirty years later.
“Time is tickin’ away, time is tickin’,
Tick, tick, tick, tock, tickin’.
You got a gift and you best start using it,
’Cause if you don’t you’re gonna wind up losing it.
Just like the brother who buried it deep,
The task was simple but the price was steep.
We got a mission while we’re on this earth,
We need to tell people ’bout our second birth.
Get busy like a schoolboy makin’ an ‘A,’
’Cause time my brother is tickin’ away.
Right now is the time that we gotta get with it,
The gift that He’s given ain’t just an exhibit;
But a tool that He’s given us to use for His sake,
And just as He’s given He can surely take.
The signs of the times are dropping like flies,
The cries of the people around us imply
They’re lookin’ for an answer that we already know,
But time is definitely on the go.”
So how do we “redeem the time”? As a child in school, time always seemed to go so slow . . . when you were in the last period of the day at school watching the seconds go by . . . when you were told about an upcoming summer vacation your family was going to take and it seemed like that particular month in which you were going to travel would never arrive . . . when you were put in the “time out” chair and had to sit there for all of five minutes, and you thought it would never be over . . . when you had a competition with your siblings in the car about who could go the longest without saying a word (the idea was planted by your parents for some peace and quiet), and it seemed like an eternity before you could talk again.
While growing up, older people always told me to enjoy every moment because time would go by so fast. I didn’t really believe them until I became those “older people.” My favorite traveling partner is my wife Karen. Like many people we had a cruise with her family canceled this last year, and it has continued to be bumped into the future. But we have been blessed by being able to enjoy several trips within the contiguous states of our country. We are currently planning a vacation that we will take later in the fall this year, God willing. We have said to each other that we don’t want to wait until our retirement to take trips like this together. We know that we have no guarantee how long we will enjoy good health on this earth, so we want to make the most of the time that God has given us.
For the stressed-out and tired mom of a preschooler who thinks this particular stage of life will never be over, it will. Relish every moment. For those of you who were unable to visit your parents or grandparents in person in retirement homes this past year, you know how precious your time with them is. Make the most of the visits and the time you have with them.
There are no guarantees. Someday our life on this earth will be over, and we may even be among those who see Jesus coming through the clouds someday as he comes to take his people back to Heaven with him. Jesus told us that “No one knows the day nor the hour” when that will happen; only God knows when his final alarm will sound. (See Matthew 24:30-36; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10).
Redeem the time because the days are evil—we have no guarantee regarding tomorrow. But just in case, don’t forget to spring forward one hour before you go to sleep Saturday night, so you’ll be refreshed for worshiping with the body of Christ on Sunday.