Time is a beast that will either chase you toward or away from the better things.
When I was young, television was just coming into its own. I spent the early part of my life listening to the radio. To this day, I would rather listen to the radio than watch television. With the radio you can do other things: build model cars, sand a tabletop or work on a puzzle. But television takes these options away from you.
As a young man, I worked as a photographer. This was back in the days before we had heard the word “digital.” I worked in a darkroom for hours on end, developing negatives and processing prints. My workplace consisted of a small dark room with one dim red light. But even there, I was never alone. My constant companion was the music pumped in by WHB of Kansas City. The DJs who cranked out the top-40 hits called themselves the World’s Happiest Broadcasters. The radio station followed me home, where I lay in bed at night, smiling as I waited for the graveling howls of Wolfman Jack and knowing that life was good.
Looking back, I’m caught off guard by what I used to deem important and by the things I treasured. I don’t know if we all go through this process, but God has used time to point me to the more valuable things of life. I don’t treasure possessions as much as I used to, unless you count my highly-prized 45 r.p.m. “Love Potion No. Nine” record. (Some of us will have to explain to this digital generation the difference between 33 1/3s and 45s.)
How have my values changed? These days, I treasure time. I treasure the time I have with my wife, my sons and especially our grandsons. I don’t understand how time has slipped through my fingers. Only yesterday, I was google-eyeing one of the most beautiful girls I had ever seen, and soon we will celebrate 40 years of marriage.
I have become a time-grabber. I grab every minute I can with any of my family members. I treasure our short rides to the grocery store. I treasure the conversation as they talk about whatever they want. The topic doesn’t matter to me because I cherish the time more than the conversation.
I treasure friendships, old and new. Time has taught me that friendships are the spice rack of life. Some of them you use every day and others only on occasion, but they are nice to have when needed. Time has not only taught me the value of having friends, but of being a friend. When someone needs me, I’m not in as much of a hurry as I was in the past. Over the years, I’ve learned that the things I thought were demanding and important will still be demanding and important … next week.
Time has taught me to treasure the Word of God, and I’ve seen the importance of meditating on it. The Bible has truly become the lamp for my feet and the light for my path (Ps. 119:105). As I’ve seen God deliver on His promises, the Bible has become even more relevant. I’ve instructed my family that if our house catches on fire, they should first make sure everyone gets out safely and second, they should retrieve my Bible. It is worn, marked up and has pages falling out, but it holds the sacred truths of life.
All in all, time has taught me to treasure two things. First, I have learned to treasure relationships above worldly things. But I still have lots of things I hold dear. Old, yellowed papers with pictures my sons drew in school, with the word “Dad” scrawled below them in crayon, or the first time they wrote the words, “I love you.” The Hopalong Cassidy cereal bowl and plate that my departed mother bought me as a young child. The pictures of my family and the many Christmases, vacations and school activities we enjoyed together. I value these items, but I treasure the relationships with my family and friends more.
Time has also taught me to treasure the things of God. God Himself, His Word, the church, brothers and sisters in Christ, the community of believers working life out together, the preaching of the Word and missions—all of these grow more and more valuable to me.
I guess what I want to say to all young people is to take it from those who are closer to the end of the road than you: Let time take you not to the good things of life but to the best: relationships and God.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Eccl. 3:1).