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Time flies, but you are the navigator

Every year around this time life seems to get a little more hectic. The hustle and bustle of it all makes me wonder, “Where does the time go?”

I recently read a report that stated: “If we live 75 years, this is how we would normally spend it: 23 years sleeping, 19 years working, nine years watching TV or other amusements, seven and half years in dressing and personal care, six years eating, six years traveling, and six months worshiping and praying.”

If these statistics are correct, it is easy to see that we spend most of our time on things that will pass away and only a fraction of our time is devoted to eternal things.

In fact, most Americans spend six months of their lives sitting at traffic lights! Michael Fortino, president of Priority Management Pittsburgh, Inc., bases that and other estimates on his firm’s yearlong research.

The study indicates that the average person in the United States spends one year searching for misplaced objects (eyeglasses, keys, etc.), six years eating and eight months opening junk mail. We also spend five years waiting in line – at banks, stores, theaters, sporting events, etc.

I’ve often heard that confession is good for the soul.

Well, I must confess that I’m an impatient person. I don’t like waiting in line for more than 30 seconds – especially when I have a hundred other things I need to do. I can’t stand junk mail and I despise traffic lights. But the fact of the matter is these things are a part of life and I must learn to live with them.

The wisest man who ever lived, King Solomon, wrote the book of Ecclesiastes. He tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

In 1965, the American folk-rock group, the Byrds, recorded the song “Turn, Turn, Turn” based on the words that Solomon wrote and it became a number one hit!

Solomon was saying there are things in life that may not seem very important to us at the moment but they do serve a purpose.

I am learning that my time spent waiting in line can become more productive by taking the time to chat with the person behind me.

My time spent sitting at traffic lights can be used to pray for someone in need. I still haven’t found a purpose for junk mail… so if you think of one, let me know!)

John Erskine, the well-known author, professor, and lecturer, once wrote that he learned the most valuable lesson of his life when he was fourteen. His piano teacher asked him how much he practiced and how long at a stretch. The boy replied that he practiced for an hour or more at a time.

“Don’t do that,” warned the teacher. “When you grow up, time won’t come in long stretches. Practice in minutes, whenever you can find them — five or ten minutes before school, after lunch, between chores. Spread the practice throughout the day, and music will become part of your life.”

Erskine stated that the observance of this advice enabled him to live a comparatively complete life as a creative writer, outside his regular duties as an instructor.

He wrote most of Helen of Troy, his most famous work, on streetcars while commuting between his home and the university.

As you can see, every moment of every day is a gift from God. How we use each moment is left up to us. Remember: time flies, but you are the navigator. And everything has a purpose… even traffic lights!

Rev. Doug Johnson is the senior pastor at Raven Assembly of God in Raven, Virginia