“Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives,” are words spoken at the start of the soap opera Days of our Lives since its beginning on November 8, 1965. The words are spoken as we watch sand moving from the top of the hourglass to the bottom.
So far it hasn’t run out. Days of Our Lives has been renewed through September of 2016. Will it end then? Only time will tell.
But the opening is telling. Our days are numbered. I remember as a kid being fascinated with an hourglass. Watching the sand filtering through was mesmerizing. An hourglass is useful if it is helping you watch your time. They were used on ships where the measurement of equal hours was necessary for calculating the distance traveled. Sand-filled hourglasses could be suspended and mostly unaffected by the motion of the ocean.
But hourglasses are not very useful if all you are doing is watching the sand. By the time the sand runs out you realize all you’ve done with that time is watched time disappear. And you can’t get it back. All those moments are gone. And then there are other moments you might have caught had you not been wasting your time watching sand.
Time is a valuable commodity. The Greeks understood that truth. So they had two words for “time.” One was kronos. It’s the word for sequential time or chronological time. It is time in minutes and seconds. The second word for “time” is kairos. It’s a word used for a window of time, an opportune time, or the right time. It has to do with a period of time that opens itself up and one needs to make the most of it when it does.
The problem is we don’t always operate on kairos time. We fill our calendars with one task or meeting or event after the next until it is full. And because we do, we often miss kairos moments. We only have so much kronos time. We have even fewer kairos moments.
That’s why Paul tells us to wake up and pay attention to how we are living our life. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16).
So what can we do to make the best use of our time?
First, make a record of where your time is going. One practice that will help you is to keep a record of where your time is going. Just as it is nearly impossible to manage your money well if you don’t keep track of how much you have and how much you spend and where you spend it, the same is true of your time.
Get a day-planner or use your calendar on your computer or mobile device and keep track of what you are doing every day for at least one week, preferably two. Be specific. If you work on a project for two hours, write that in. If you get sidetracked and read e-mails for 15 minutes, write that in. Be honest. If you’re not the exercise won’t do you any good.
Then, prayerfully analyze what adjustments need to be made. These questions might help:
- How would Jesus have used this time if he were in my shoes?
- Would he have gone where I went? Would he have read what I read? Would he have watched what I watched? Would he have worked like I worked?
- Is there something God is calling me to do that I need to add to my schedule? A visit to someone? Some Sabbath rest? A ministry activity?
Once you know where your time is going and have analyzed the adjustments you need to make, then make the adjustments. Be proactive and train yourself to do the important things first. If you do, you’ll have time to get to the other activities on your list.
Our kronos moments are disappearing with each second. Our kairos moments are too.
Let’s make the best use of them.
Question: What adjustments to your time useage do you want to make in 2015?