"It's About Time"
Worldview and the Clock

Note: This commentary was delivered by Prison Fellowship President Mark Earley.

In Jonathan Swift's classic book Gulliver's Travels, when Gulliver arrives in Lilliput, the Lilliputians see his pocket watch and conclude that it must be Gulliver's god. After all, Gulliver told them that he never did anything without consulting it first. I often feel like that.

Is the clock your god? I believe that there is probably no other part of our lives so thoroughly co-opted by a secular worldview than our notion of time. We say time is a gift from God, but most of the time we treat time as a club rather than a gift-something that we chase, and once we catch it, it beats us up. It's a notion of time that is contrary to a Christian worldview.

To properly understand time, we need richer language than the language of management. We need biblical language that reflects the God who grants us life hour by hour, minute by minute.

Time in the global economy is what I call "head-banging time." There are no more days; there is simply productivity-24/7. Time in the global economy never slows down, never rests, and has no rhythm but the relentless beat of commerce.

That is not the biblical idea of time. God has built a rhythm into the world and into human beings. Eugene Peterson in his book Working the Angles points out that in the Bible a day doesn't begin with sunrise. It begins with sunset. The day begins when we go to sleep and God works. We wake up and join Him in the work of the day He began while we were sleeping. We don't begin the day, but rather we wake up and step into God's rhythm of grace, a day already in progress.

This idea that day begins when I go to sleep is a vital worldview concept. Life, success, and productivity don't, in the final analysis, depend on us. They depend on God.

And that understanding allows us to rest-to rest in our sleep knowing that God is at work and to rest on the Sabbath. Because we believe in the providence of God, we can affirm that we have enough time, and we can then receive the day as a gift.

There are at least four applications for this biblical view of time. First, we should honor our bodies by keeping sensible schedules and getting the rest we need. We have enough time to work, rest, love our families and friends, worship, and exercise.

Second, prayer and meditation on God's Word must be built into our schedules. Keeping God and His Word at the forefront of our minds helps us develop the biblical notion of time.

Third, we can say, no. Our overscheduled lives are testimony that our notion of time has not been formed by a biblical worldview.

And finally, we can enjoy the freedom of the Sabbath, that foretaste of our eternal rest with God.

Time is a profound worldview issue. And this biblical perspective on time will revolutionize the way we live, play, rest, worship, and work.

So the next time you look at your watch, take a moment to remember who your God is and how He has providentially given you all the time you need.

Copyright (c) 2003 Prison Fellowship Ministries

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