Authored by Tina Kapp
Imagine if you could go back in time and relive any moment in your life. Are there any decisions you’d make differently? Any specific moments you’d enjoy again? Or people you wish you’d spent more time with?
I recently watched a movie called About Time,1 where the men of a certain family could go back in time to correct mistakes or replay moments in their lives. I’m sure all of us could benefit from something like that. We could right any wrongs, change a decision we made, or take our proverbial foot out of our mouths when we said or did something awkward. We could also learn more about a person we were interested in and have multiple tries to find out what they did or didn’t like. Sounds like all our problems would be over, but unfortunately, we don’t have that ability.
We only get one chance to live through each day, and sometimes we forget how priceless each day is. We often allow the daily problems and stress to crowd out the wonderful blessings we have—friendships, family, experiences, and the fact that we’re creating memories each day that we can keep forever. As you grow up, it may become more difficult to spend as much time with those you love as you’d like, and you’ll look back at the times you were able to as a treasure. You’ll wish you had appreciated time with them more when they were closer to you.
What we value is also often a matter of perspective. Lake Victoria, in Uganda, is a big, beautiful freshwater lake that flows into the Nile River. My family, friends, and I have gone swimming, boating, and jet skiing there. Because water in Uganda is abundant, the soil is very rich, and fruit and vegetables even grow wild. Some friends of ours had come from Libya, where petrol costs less than water. They said that if you drove a scooter in Libya, you could fill up for free, as payment for that small amount was not even worth it to the suppliers. However, a supply of fresh water like Lake Victoria astounded them. To them water is worth far more than petrol, because with water you can grow food and survive!
They wondered why Uganda wasn’t a richer country with massive agricultural exports in place. The fact is, when food grows so easily, people sometimes aren’t as motivated to find ways to grow a greater abundance in order to save some of it. They can get what they need and not worry about saving it for a long winter, as it is summerlike weather all year round.
We often don’t appreciate something when it’s always available or when we have an abundance of it. Depending on where you live, things like electricity or running water can be so common that it’s hard to imagine spending even a few hours without it, much less longer!
It made me think about time. It’s something you don’t really appreciate until you don’t have any. When work or life crowds our schedule, or when sickness or accidents threaten to take it away completely is when we finally pay attention to how precious our time here is.
Psalms says, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”2
In the movie I mentioned above, the father advises his son to live every day twice. He suggests that he live it the first time with all the tension and worries that stop him from noticing how sweet the world could be, and the second time taking time to stop and notice—to love the people around him and enjoy all the beautiful things.
We unfortunately don’t have the luxury of traveling back in time, but we can live each day the first time around as if we had chosen to come back to this day and make note of all the wonderful things in it.
I don’t know who originally came up with this anecdote, but it’s a great reminder of how valuable our time on earth is. Suppose you were credited $86,400 every day, which was reflected in your bank account. However, let’s say there was a catch: you couldn’t save any of this money. Every evening, the bank cancelled whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. Well, you’d catch on pretty quick that every day you’d want to spend every cent as effectively as possible.
The fact of the matter is that we have something much more valuable than money; it is called time. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds, which represents 1,440 minutes, which equals 24 hours each day. Every night, the bank of time rules off as lost whatever time you failed to invest. It carries no balances. It allows no overdrafts. Each day, the bank of time opens a new account with you, and each night, it burns up the records of the day. Even if you fail to use the day’s deposits, you must take the loss.
You might think: Time isn’t more valuable than money. I’d rather take 86,400 in currency than in seconds, please. But how valuable do you think that money will be to you when you’ve got no time left?
You may recall the short story in the Bible Jesus told about the rich fool3 who stored up all his wealth in barns, and when they couldn’t hold any more, he decided to build bigger barns in order to keep it all for himself. God wasn’t impressed, and told him that that same night he would die. What do you think he was able to take with him of all the things he had selfishly kept from others and from God? Nothing!
I think you’d agree with me that time is the most valuable asset in our lives, and only we can determine how it will be spent.
Which reminds me of a joke about another rich fool: This rich man had spent his whole life acquiring so much money that he pleaded with God to let him take some of it with him to heaven. God chuckled at his foolishness, but decided to grant him his wish and let him choose one valuable thing to take with him. The rich man decided that he would sell all his wealth and buy gold bars, which had the highest value, and take that with him. Pleased with himself, he arrived at the gates of heaven, where Saint Peter greeted him and asked what was in his very heavy suitcase. The rich man explained the deal he made with God. Curious, Peter asked what he had chosen to bring, as it must be very special indeed! The rich man proudly opened the case to show him the glimmering gold bricks.
Surprised, Peter exclaimed, “You brought pavement?”
Streets of gold aside, it’s a good reminder of what really matters at the end of the day. As Mother Teresa said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”
2 Psalm 90:12
3 Luke 12:13–21
Read by Stephen Larriva. Music by sindustry(CC). Copyright© 2016 by The Family International