Whilst the animal kingdom is genetically engineered by the Creator to sense the transition of the seasons, time is predominantly a tool understood and used only by man to measure, order and record his experience on earth. This ability gives men and women the opportunity to appreciate the true worth of their most precious possession, life.
In failing to use time effectively, many don't realise the true potential of their lives. Time is so often wasted, abused or taken for granted. In doing so, men and women fail to use their lives as well as they might. The prayer of the psalmist is as pertinent today as the day it was written: 'teach us to number our days that we might apply our hearts unto wisdom' (Psalm 90:12).
Our problem is that only in retrospect are we able to compute with any degree of assurance. We are counselled by the word of God, ‘Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth’ (Proverbs 27:1). The measurement of our lives is consistently referred to in its historic aspect: ‘we spend our years as a tale that is told’ (Psalm 90:9).
This should serve to make us realise how precious is ‘now’. The past, recording who we are and what we have done, is an unchangeable record. The future, whilst we can fill it with good intentions and ambitions, is not entirely within our purview.
"It is in the present alone that we have an opportunity to shape our lives."
It is in the present alone that we have an opportunity to shape our lives. Indeed, the present is constantly generating our history. As a result, what we do in the ‘here and now’ defines what men will think of us and, more importantly, how we discharge our duty to God.
When Paul, reiterating Isaiah 49:8 to the Corinthians, wrote ‘behold, now is the accepted time’ (2 Corinthians 6:2), it was to ensure they ‘receive not the grace of God in vain’. His concern was that those who were ‘workers together with him’ should manage their time fittingly ‘as the ministers of God’. The same responsibility lies on all believers.