How You Spend Your Time

Posted on December 31, 2013


In three days we celebrate the coming of the New Year, an arbitrary point in time that is usually an excuse for a lot of things. Time is the dimension which we live in, along with space.  We occupy a place in space, and inexorably proceed along in time.

If you are a Christian, both your beginning and end here on earth are givens. That is, you were created in the image of God far, far back in time, and at a precise point determined by God, you were born, and put on earth. And sometime (nice word), you will return to God’s space, and disappear from the earth.

Even if you are an atheist, you are still a captive of time. Only, as near as I can figure it, you don’t believe in God and so when you die, you just disappear. I’d rather believe that God and his son Jesus Christ will be waiting for me for a good round of golf before I join the heavenly choir, and quite possibly hit the right notes for the first time in my (after) life.

Now, if you are still with me and haven’t turned to the sports page, let me turn to what we do in time. My wife and I were talking the other day about how you can tell where a person’s mind and heart are by how they spend their time.

There are many things “good for us” for example that “we just don’t have the time for.” Like exercise, going to Church, praying, studying (especially if you are a student), going out of our way for others, and so forth.

For me, among the good things I do in time, is turn the television set off, don’t take second helpings, think good thoughts, and read or listen to my Bible daily. I listen through a program called Gateway Bible which has the entire Bible recorded in at least two languages—English and Spanish. Both voices are wonderful, deep baritones which intone the words like perhaps one imagines God sounds, or maybe just Charlton Heston who occasionally played Moses and God in the movies.

Lest you think I spend most of my time, most of the days, in doing good things, let me disabuse you of my haloed look.

One day, a few weeks ago, I spent most of it trying to remove electronic garbage on my browsers, bits of code and memory hidden in my cache, or deep in the entrails of layers and layers of computer code.  Ads that bounced around, search engines I didn’t want or could not delete, and other annoying electronic tidbits popped up on my browser screens. I tried to work off and on, but I invariably returned to troubleshoot.

I also had to get a new cell phone that day since my old one died, and I spent most of that day—when not trying to find the code and kill it on my computer—trying to get my email server to serve up my email on my cell phone.

I did not time all these distractions, but they monopolized my time to the point that my main job at the time—translating some sixteenth century Spanish written by the great Spanish friar and defender of American Indians, Bartolomé de las Casas—simply fell by the wayside. In one day of work I think I translated two paragraphs.

Other intrusions on “my time” were ordinary like opening mail, grinding my teeth at new bills, and trying to balance my electronic checkbook when I wasn’t trying to kill a little bouncing window telling me my computer was about to crash—and so always returning to my compulsion of the day: fix the browser or get apps working on my cell phone.

All of the above reminded me of Albert Einstein’s definition of madness: a man doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

I finally gave up towards evening, and while my wife went off to work out at the gym, I turned on God speaking in Spanish on my Gateway Bible and listened to some good passages from the books of Hechos and Salmos.

Where had time flown that day? Away, never to be recovered. That’s the nature of time. On the other hand, tomorrow will be a new day, to speak the obvious.

And as I tell my “congregation” in jail every Tuesday night when I go into the local county jail with a bunch of other Christian men and women to share our faith, “today is the first day of the rest of your life.”

I know that is a trite, well-worn expression, but many have never heard it, and it lifts them up. They are, after all, “doing time,” and tomorrow has got to be better than yesterday. All in good time of course.

How do you spend your time?

 Published Sunday Dec. 29, 2013 in my blog The Port Rail as How You Spend Your Time in Life is Important in The Tuscaloosa News,

Posted in: Life in America