I’ve been learning a lot about time during these past few months of college. Time is precious and scarce; it needs to be redeemed, stewarded, and used for the glory of Christ. But coming home for the holidays has reminded me of yet another important aspect of time. (Warning: This post as a whole is pretty over- dramatic, but bear with me… I’m trying to practice my english skills and write like C.S. Lewis. Also, this may not make any sense.)
Returning home for break is strange. Mostly everything is the same; certainly if I had not been away I would notice no differences at all, but since I have been away I can sense small changes; so subtle that I can’t even express what they are. There was the moment of first walking in through the door of my house and seeing everything more or less as I had left it, except a bit messier and with a few things rearranged; my parents were their normal cheerful selves, Katie a bit bigger but just as motor-mouthed as usual. Then there was first reuniting with friends who are more or less the same as I remember them, except, of course, slightly different; reshaped and refined by the millions and millions of moments that make up a few short months. Those moments felt like I had walked through a door to the past, perfectly preserved just as I remember it; and it truly would be so if time had not passed and pushed everything forward a few inches. Now, perhaps this is all because I’m a freshman and it’s been my first extended period of time away from home, but I suspect to some extent this strangeness will always be so.
As I was thinking about this, I realized that this process will happen again every break, next year and the year after that (…and soon we’ll be too old to have breaks anymore ), slowly and incrementally, until we’re all completely different people. My parents will grow older, Katie will grow up, and my friends will all change and mature. We will, at least for these next few years, part during the school year and reunite together come Christmas time mostly the same, but a few months older, wiser, and more experienced than we were before.
Where am I going with this? Honestly I’m not quite sure myself if this even makes sense, but here’s my thought: we must value the time we spend with others because these moments happen only once and will never be the same again. Every moment stands alone; the next may be mostly the same, but never exactly. Things like coming home for breaks make these differences, which happen everyday, more apparent, because we are absent from the company of our family and friends for longer, making the differences between moments of interaction more easily visible.
I think this is especially pertinent in regards to the area of family. I have lots of time to spend with my family during these 3 weeks off. There is a temptation, however, not to do so; but rather to spend most of my time on my computer, sleeping, or spending all my time outside the house. After all there will be Christmas break next year and the year after that just as there always has been. And yet, next Christmas break will be different than this one. Katie will be a year older as will my parents. And how can I, in my pride, even assume that I will be alive another year to make amends for half-heartedly loving my family this year? Is not this break a precious and unique opportunity from God to love my family as they are in these moments, that if I do not redeem, will be lost forever? The same principle applies with the time I spend with those at church and with friends. Is this break not an irreplaceable chance to meet them where they are now, and to serve and encourage them? Tomorrow, next year, next week, they will have different needs, praises, stories to share, and lessons they are learning; if I waste this moment it will be gone forever. Since the preciousness of an object is measured by its scarcity, then our every moment spent with one another, at home or away, becomes immensely precious because every moment is distinct.
Truthfully, this is just a abstract idea that I thought was interesting enough to write about. I am sure there are many other more biblical reasons why we ought to treasure our time with others. This, if anything at all, hopefully serves to highlight that every seemingly mundane interaction and ordinary conversation has enormous worth. Moments are precious and furthermore people are precious. Let us never approach our relationships lethargically, always believing there will be an abundance more of future moments to redeem. The time we spend with others is irretrievable and priceless. Break or no break, whether we’re away from those we love or if we see them every day, may we view every moment together with others as a valuable and unique opportunity to display the love of Christ.
On another related note, I’ve noticed that when I think of this concept of “using time well” I tend to think of time only as it relates to “free time.” In reality, however, time encompasses our entire lives. There is nothing we do that is outside the reaches of time. Using time well then is more than limiting/avoiding facebook, video games, and other frivolous things; it’s redeeming the time we spend at church, with friends and family. It’s taking every second that God has given us and glorifying Him through whatever we do. Spending time well is spending life well and a life well-spent is one used for the glory of Christ.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalms 90:12)