You too can be a Time Traveler

One of the movie genres I enjoy are films about time travel. The idea of being able to escape the bounds of time has always fascinated me. Ah to be done with attempts at merely managing time. Give me a time machine and I will be the master of time by rewinding it or fast forwarding it at will! No doubt you too have dreamt of being free from the constraints and pressures of time and being able to alter or redeem time.

Time as we all know marches on relentlessly and waits for no man. Someone bemoaning the facts that time flies and it is just a matter of time before time runs out, penned a timely observation. “Time is like a roll of toilet paper, the closer you get to the end the faster it goes.”

The irony of most time travel movies is that the plight of the time traveler is no different than those of us without a time machine. In classic time travel cinema like Back to the Future and its sequels, the time traveler, Marty McFly, finds himself repeatedly caught in a predicament with time running out. You know the drill: as he races against time, it’s just a matter of time before he’ll be out of time, unless he is saved in the nick of time. Where is the time machine when a guy really needs it?

Time is an enigma. It is both a friend and a foe; a blessing and a curse. Time is our most precious possession and yet we seldom treat it that way. What we do with it will determine our destiny and yet we seldom think about it that way. We can redeem time or waste time, buy time or spend time, keep time or do time, bide time or two time, save time or kill time, stretch time or squeeze time, make time or mark time, borrow time or take time.

The passage of time affects everyone differently. Time is slower for the class than for the teacher, and slower for the congregation than the preacher. Time goes faster for those on vacation than for those at work, but slower for the customer than the clerk. It’s also faster for those taking a test than the proctor, but slower for the patient than the doctor.

There is a big difference between telling time and knowing the time. When we tell time, we are simply reciting the position of the hands on the clock. That is chronological or from the Greek, chronos time. But when we know the time, we are recognizing the significance of the time to which the hands point. That is kairos (Gk) time. Kairos time might best be described as a purposeful time in our lives, filtered through God’s loving hands, in which He promises to empower us.

Time & Relationship Management

“All the king’s officials and even the people in the provinces know that anyone who appears before the king in his inner court without being invited is doomed to die unless the king holds out his gold scepter.” Esther4:11 (NLT)

The Persian king Xerxes (or Ahasuerus depending on your translation) was a world ruler and likely the busiest men in his day. That coupled with his infatuation with his own sense of self importance apparently drove him to becoming a time management freak.

His ruthlessness in managing his priorities, to the point of killing anyone who dared to interrupt him, was known throughout the realm. Anyone wanting to do business with him or even any family member wanting to spend time with him risked their very lives in taking initiative to see him.

Imagine the fear of having to deal with, or worse yet having to live, with someone so task oriented and self-protective of his time? Watch out, if the old man is preoccupied, feeling overloaded or in a grumpy mood he could lop off your head for bothering him!

We would all be quick to agree that this is time management run amuck. It is a caricature of how detrimental it is when task management becomes exclusive of relationship management.

Wise time management is first and foremost relationship management.

The book of Esther, documenting the salvation of the Jews through the efforts of Mordecai and Queen Esther, is a great study in the priority of relationship management.

The To Don’t List

Our lives are built around “to do lists.” Like most people I keep ongoing and always growing to do lists. There is my work to do list, my home to do list, my call/write to do list, my reading to do list, my prayer to do list, my bucket to do list, and on and on the to do lists grow. These to do lists guide and inform my life of the ways in which I should and/or want to spend my time. But my recent study for a sermon I gave on the subject of the Sabbath, entitled “Faith to Rest” has sensitized me to the equal if not more important idea of keeping a “to don’t list.”

We live in a culture where “to don’t lists” are lost in the flood of to do lists. Our modern world is driven by a busyness that is a by product of the high value we place on accomplishment and accumulation. Consequently the idea of taking time to stop or cease things is anathema to our drive to keep the graphs of life moving up and to the right.

The Bible however confirms our real-life experience that the graph does move down as frequently and readily as it moves up. The passage of Ecclesiastes popularized by The Byrds’ song “Turn, Turn, Turn” in the mid 1960’s says it plainly and painfully. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) It might be summed up like this. There is a time to continue and a time to stop, a time to do and a time to don’t!

The word for Sabbath, derives from the Hebrew word shavat which is frequently translated rest, but more accurately means to cease or to stop (work/doing). The idea of the weekly observance of a Sabbath is a good place to begin when thinking about a “to don’t list.” Although there may be many bad or sinful things that should naturally go right to the top of our “to don’t lists,” the things we often overlook are the good things. Sabbaths were created by God as seasons to suspend even the productive and beneficial things in our lives for the higher purpose of renewed consecration to Him.

A proper “to don’t list” then should include bad things, good things that are simply not the best things and even the best things that need a rest.

Here is a list of clarifying questions that I am finding helpful in determining what things need to be priorities in creating a “to don’t list.”

1. What things in my life am I doing that I need

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