In Chester Cathedral there is an old clock with the following inscription:
When as a child I laughed and wept, time crept
When as a youth I dreamed and talked, time walked
When I became a full grown man, time ran
And later as I older grew, time flew
Soon I shall find while travelling on, time gone
Will Christ have saved my soul by then?
Timed does indeed fly. No wonder the Psalmist said: “Teach us how short our life is, so that we may become wise” (GNB). In the light of this verse I wish to suggest that we would be wise to take the following four steps:-
1. Put our affairs into order – and write our wills, while there is still time. According to a BBC report last year, two out of three of Britons do not have a will. This is not fair to loved ones – think of all the trouble we create for them if we die intestate! Although, the Scriptures say nothing about wills, they do say that as Christians we have a duty of care to our loved ones. The Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: “If anyone does not take care of his relatives, especially the members of his own family, he has denied the faith and is worse than unbeliever” (1 Tim 5.7). Incidentally, we don’t have to wait until we are old. I wrote my first will when I was 25 – I needed to, because I had a wife and a child.
2. Put our relationships in order, and where necessary exercise forgiveness. For many people Christmas is a great time for deepening family relationships – and yet sadly Christmas is also a time for family rows. Let me ask you a question: are you happy with your current relationships? Are you at peace not just with the immediate family, but also with the wider family? And what about relationships with neighbours or work colleagues, or whoever. Are there fences that need to be repaired? Is there forgiveness to be exercised? Is there a letter to be written, a conversation to be had?
Remember, forgiveness is not optional. Jesus said: “If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done” (Matt 6.14-15). .
3. Use the time God gives us to the full. In the words of the Apostle Paul, “Be careful how you live… Make good use of every opportunity you have” (Eph 5.15,16). We need to ask ourselves: Are we giving our children the time they need? Our parents the time they need? Our church the time it needs? Time, of course, is at a premium. But the truth is that it is all too easy to fritter time away. Do some sums: how much time are you watching TV? How much time are you on the net? How much time are you actively serving God? Before it is too late, make sure that you have made the most of life.
4. Allow God into our lives, before it is too late. In the Scriptures wisdom is pre-eminently associated with the fear/knowledge of God: i.e. the wise are those who have opened up their hearts to the Lord Jesus and invited him to become their Saviour: (see Rev 3.20). For only so will we be able to stand before God on the Day of Judgment. It has been said that the way to hell is paved with good intentions – let that not be true of us!