Time. It is the most valuable resource in the universe and in life. As Charles Darwin put it, “A man who dare waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” It is not quite like other resources, such as water or oxygen, because it is not limited by the boundaries of space. It does not actually inhabit any space for that matter or a certain amount of physical matter like water or oxygen can. It is simply there, but in actuality is hard to comprehend sometimes why it is there. One might argue it is its own dimension or reality.
Why is there a countdown for the universe as a whole? Why is the universe limited by an ever increasing range of numbers that eventually will stop when the watchmaker, God, decides that it is time for a new earth and a new heaven (1)? Why even place this limit upon the universe? Why didn’t God just create an eternal universe, instead of a transient universe? Lots of why’s when it comes to time and the concept therein.
Why is time so valuable you might add? Well, unlike water or oxygen it can never be stored or saved for later. Time is ever ending. It is like a bowl of sand being poured out slowly, but surely until the bowl is completely empty. Once the bowl is empty, that’s it. Time has run out. As scary as that sounds, that is the reality of time.
Another way of understanding time is that it is like throwing a stone or firing a gun at a specific target. Both the bullet and the stone will travel for awhile at their consistent rates before colliding with the target, thus ending their course. Time is like the distance the bullet and the stone travel, the “trigger-man” so to speak is God causing everything into being which includes the starting point of time, and the target is the end of time when God says “Times up!”
Then again, is time even linear to begin with? Some say time is linear, while others propose it is cyclic like a cone (i.e. the Big Bang Model), along with a few that say it may even be an ever expanding sphere of sorts (i.e. a balloon being blown up). Now I’m no scholar, so I cannot determine which view is correct, but I can say they all have valid merit to believe in each understanding of time.
For the traditional view of time, that camp argues that there was a first cause and since that first cause there has been a sequential series of events moving on a horizontal plane to an unknown end. Think like a ruler or a simple line with two end points. They can measure things like distance and such.
In the cyclic (cone) group of thinkers, they presume that time is a lot like the way people understand the universe in that both are expanding in the shape of a cone. There was a starting point where the first cause occurred, but since then it has been expanding larger and larger. These thinkers use the phenomena of red-shift stretching across space as proof of this hypothesis for this way of comprehending time.
The third camp does likewise in that they use red-shift as evidence for their view, but to a different extent. They argue that time is a lot like a big ball that is slowly, but surely growing in size until it finally pops. An easy example would be to refer to the way oxygen fills up a balloon until it explodes. In a way, they believe time is a swirling twirl of cause and effect colliding in an incomprehensible pattern that is interwoven like a ball of yarn. A chaotic masterpiece.
Why do I bring up these various ideas of time? Because I want you to understand how much we do not understand about time. How much we barely know about it. Alas, how much we as human beings under appreciate time and undervalue it. Well, I’m here to argue for the importance of time. Life’s most valuable resource.
The Bible, God’s inspired Word, has a lot to say concerning the concept of time. The actual word “time” appears in the NASB translation of the Bible 626 times. To say that time is important to God is an extreme understatement. Some passages of Scripture that come to mind is first and foremost Ecclesiastes chapter 3 where King Solomon reflects on the concept of time and seasons. In the chapter, he asserts that “there is an appointed time for everything.” Essentially, every single moment in time matters, no matter how big or small that moment in the grand scheme of things may be. In life, there is no coincidences, only opportunities. With this in mind, nothing can be random because something caused that “random” effect.
Time is a lot like the wind or gravity. We cannot actually see them, but we can observe their effects on our environment, our dimension. Except, recently a group of scientists did find that gravity waves were detected back in February of 2016, so besides that you get the idea. Time is an effect-full, yet invisible force of nature that affects everything within the universe, including the universe itself.
You see, time is a loan from God. When God first caused and created the universe, along with everything within it, a countdown was started. From that point onward time has been counting down to the moment when the timeline of the said universe ends. With this in mind, everything within the universe also has a beginning, middle, and end, such as ourselves. We are born, live our lives hopefully to the fullest, and then die. It is the cycle of everything in the universe. Unless you are Denzel Washington. Denzel Washington is forever Denzel Washington.
The point is that because we are limited by this variable we have dubbed time, we are also on a countdown to our inevitable end. Eventually, our time here in the material realm will be done as we transition in the spiritual realms of either Heaven or Hell. If you adhere to the Naturalist worldview, then this is it and you have nothing to look forward to. Those who hold a theistic worldview, like myself for example, can look forward to a better or worse eternity. For the Naturalist, nothing. Even in this life there is nothing. From the Naturalist’s worldview, you have no meaning, purpose, or value.
Now let’s observe the other position. That there is meaning, purpose, and value because there is something beyond the material as the theistic worldview asserts. Where does this meaning, purpose, and value come from? Well, just as the meaning, purpose, and value of a work of art comes from the artist giving their artwork these qualities, so too does us as the creation of the great Creator of the universe, namely God.
Since we derive our meaning, purpose, and value from God it would only make sense that those must be fulfilled in this life where we were placed to begin with by God. I mean why would God instill these desires in our hearts, if not to see us follow His plans for our lives and satisfy these desires within our lifetimes? C.S. Lewis once spoke of this predicament when he said “Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for these desires exists” (2).
The question remains: how do we fulfill these desires and how does this tie back into the value of time? Well, let’s go back to what the Bible has to say on the topic of time in a bit more detail. This will clue us in on how to appropriately answer this question in a way that is both emotionally and logically reasonable. If time is a variable in which we are contingent on, how do we use it to our benefit to satisfy our ultimate desires for meaning, purpose, and value? In the book of Exodus, reflection and remembrance is a key theme that carries throughout this book in the Old Testament of the Bible.
Specifically, Exodus 13:10-14 where the LORD instructs the Hebrews on how they are to reflect and remember how God delivered them from the land of Egypt by taking them to the Promised Land. This aspect of reflecting and remembering time is also of note in Exodus chapter 34 where an entire chapter is dedicated to this idea of remembrance, particularly Exodus 34:21 where the Hebrews are commanded by God to rest. The key lesson here is that there is a time and a place for everything. God formulated this philosophy when He created the universe by spending six days working and one day resting. Thus, fulfilling what we would call the work week.
Next, we jump to Nehemiah 2:6 where we can use time as a measurement to map out our lives or God can for that matter (3). Yet at the same instant, as the saying goes, be “a man of our word.” Nehemiah did this when he gave King Artaxerxes accompanied by the Queen a definite time of when he would return. A promise was proclaimed.
There are “God-Moments” when God enters time and accomplishes His will for His glory by allowing us free agents to bring about these so-called “God Moments” (4). Time can peel away inner heartache that can unveil who we are or what we have become (5). Time is a witness of the past (6) and is always brimming with opportunity (7) for us to fulfill our God-given desires.
How do I spend my time? Good question. How should I spend my time? Better question. If time is a loan from God, then how much time has God given me? No one knows. I don’t know and you don’t know. It is what makes this life so interesting and so risky. Our time is set, yet we are not informed of how much time is set.
That is why we must use our time wisely, in order to make the most of the time we are given from God. We must redeem the time (8) as we wait expectantly for the appointed time to be fulfilled and remain alert for that to pass (9). We use our time wisely when we set out to fulfill the God-given desires of our hearts by abiding in Christ, which will in turn satisfy our craving for ultimate meaning, purpose, and value.
Love your loved ones. Fellowship with friends. Work hard and do not become sluggish in what may end up being your final moments. The past grows as the future shrinks, so this is the time to seek God. This life that you and I live is an ever ending marathon. A journey one might say that is not over until time is over and we enter eternity.
This is just a brief summary of why I uphold the value of time and treasure it far above anything that this life can offer because time is what God has given us. How will we use this gift? What will we do with our time? Well, that is up to you now isn’t it? With that, Godspeed and Jesus bless!
- 2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 21:1-5
- Mere Christianity (bk. 3, chap. 10)
- Exodus 9:5; Psalm 75:2; Daniel 2:16
- Judges 16:28
- Job 36:10, 15
- Isaiah 30:8
- John 7:6
- Ephesians 5:16
- Mark 1:15; 13:33