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On Where Time Goes


Can it really be November 30 already?

Another month has flown by. It’s only 25 days until Christmas! Wasn’t it just last week that we were returning Christmas decorations to the attic? I’m realizing all too well my grandmother’s declaration that the older one gets, the faster time flies.


Years ago, I read an article written by veteran journalist and war correspondent Don Whitehead titled “On Where Time Goes.” (No, the title of this blog post is not unique, but thankfully titles aren’t copyrighted.) In his article, Whitehead calculated how much of his life he had spent engaged in various activities. Working, whether in a newsroom office or in foxholes along the front lines during World War II. Sleeping. Dressing and undressing. Shaving and bathing. Watching things, from the growth of tomatoes in his garden to the flow of the Tennessee River outside his home.

When Whitehead completed his calculations, he discovered that he had large blocks of time for which he could not account. I suspect that if each of us undertook to make similar calculations for how we’ve spent our time, we’d come to a similar conclusion. We never seem to have enough time, and what time we do have flies by.

Think about it.

We don’t have to chop wood to fuel our kitchen stoves. We have electric or gas stoves for instant cooking heat. And if that’s not fast enough, we can “nuke” our food in our microwave ovens. We don’t have to spend time or exert the effort to saddle a horse or hitch a team of horses to a wagon and then spend hours in the saddle or on a hard buckboard seat to reach our destination. We push a remote key and start the engine of our automobiles, which heat up or cool down for us by the time we enter it and make a quick trip in cushioned comfort. We don’t even have to visit the store to buy our groceries or other commodities. We just order whatever we want online and have it delivered to us.

Yet, we’re always complaining that we “don’t have time.” We’re always in a hurry. No time to sit and relax and talk with family members or neighbors. No time to read our Bibles and talk to God about our lives. No time to meditate or reflect or think.

Oh, I think that we have time; we just waste a lot of it on things that don’t really matter all that much in the big scheme of things. We have time (or make it) for what really matters to us.


All of us, like Whitehead discovered, have large blocks of time for which we can’t account. Yet, each of us is accountable for how we spend every moment of time that has been granted us. We all have the same amount of time: 60 minutes per hour, 24 hours per day, 30 or 31 days per month (or 28 or 29 if it’s February), and 12 months per year. How well we use the available time is what makes the differences among us.

A wise poet once declared,

Only one life; ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.

Carpe diem! “Seize the day,” with eternity’s values in view. Nothing else really matters, so use your time wisely.

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