Time – the great equalizer or an enemy?

I have a pastor friend who insists that time is man-kind’s great equalizer. He frequently reminds his parishioners that in any given 24 hour period, each person has exactly 86,400 seconds to use wisely or to waste as they see fit. And each individual assigns value to each moment of time they are given by their Creator – and uses it accordingly.

In principle I believe this too, with some exceptions. Are not each of us to one degree or another, time-constrained by the circumstances we find ourselves in – with “time lost” often the consequence? For example, do not medical conditions, the treatment of which require anesthesia-induced unconsciousness or do not mental and emotional challenges like depression erase large chunks of time?  These through little to no fault of the sufferer capture large segments of their time – and before a person is even aware of what happened, seconds, minutes and hours have disappeared forever. I specifically exclude social, cultural and governmental constraints from this list of examples of segments of time people have little control over; for did not the eleventh son of the Patriarch Jacob as well as a number of New Testament saints prove that even prison walls cannot prevent a determined individual from making the most of his allotted time.

However, to some, time becomes an enemy; because they never seem to have enough of it to do all those things they value so highly. Yet perhaps they’ve simply chosen the wrong standard for assigning value to their use of time? I find that many of my retired friends who have worked hard all their lives, once they reach a position of relative affluence and freedom from life’s burdens and responsibilities, look inward for their standard. These focus on possessions and world travel, things that have accumulated on their bucket list over the years. Others more wisely seem more inclined to look outward for their standard to assigning value to their future time-use opportunities. They place time spent with family, friends, God, and in the healing of broken people on a higher plateau than checking things off a bucket list.

I’ve tried both approaches. For a time I tried the former; but found myself constantly comparing my personal circumstances with that of my neighbor and either flaunting or regretting our respective opportunities (or lack thereof) to enjoy God’s creation. One day I’d be envying acquaintances whose late-in-life financial affluence enabled them to spend their winters in Florida or on cruises to Alaska and the South Seas. Only to counter that the next day by pitying those who have never seen a sunset at Ayers Rock, waded through a Maui surf, meditated on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel or wandered the streets of Greenwich Village during its hey-day, adventures which dot my personal memory. This elevator approach to life I found to be very frustrating and unstable.

I’m thankful that I’ve settled on the latter approach and for the blessings of adequate finances, talent and physical health to be able to assist and serve those that God has put before me. The needs of family, friends and the broken-hearted in my own backyard are sufficient to accommodate every second of time available. Besides, I’ve never been very good at searching out causes to support in foreign lands or on cruise ships.