Pussy cat, pussy cat where have you been?

“I have been to London to visit the queen”

Pussy cat, pussy cat what did you there?

“I frightened a little mouse right under her chair”

You ever think about it?  Here is a cat that has been given probably the greatest opportunity of his life, the chance to see the queen.  To enjoy all the privileges of meeting monarchy.  Now I don’t know your opinion of the royal family but most of us are curious enough by nature to jump at a chance to meet Queen Elizabeth and all her children, even if it is morbid curiosity.

So, here is our pussy cat, who for brevity sake we shall call PC.  PC has gone to London to see the Queen and when he gets there from his commentary, we discover that instead of making the most of the time he had with her he did a very common and instinctive thing.  He chased a mouse right under her chair.  Not a bad thing, not an evil thing, but given the circumstances probably not the best possible use that he could have given to his time.  And yet I am sure that if you spoke to PC that he would tell you that right then that had seemed to be the thing that should be done.  After all he was a cat and the mouse was a mouse and tradition, duty and obligation would say that there was indeed some urgency required if he was to catch the mouse.

And so, the tyranny of the urgent took over and robbed PC of his entire purpose of going to see the Queen.  From his brief account of his visit this would appear to be the sum total what happened in his encounter with royalty.  Not that he did anything wrong, but he sacrificed the best possible use of his time to satisfy his preconceived idea of the necessary.

I wonder on this, the last Sunday of the year, how many of us could testify to having wasted precious moments with the necessary when much greater opportunities lay at hand.  

Let me start with three premises that you may or may not agree with and that is your prerogative completely.  The first thing is this; you will always find time to do the things that you want to do.  You can believe that or not but at least think about it.  When I was in College I could never find time to study, I used to lament about there not being enough hours in the day, sound familiar? 

Right, but I could always find time to take Angela out, or to go to a hockey game, or read a good book, or play monopoly with Peter Fuller, Jeff Turcotte and Allan Mullen until three o’clock in the morning.  But there never seemed to be enough time to study.

The second thing is that you have the same twenty four hours in your day as everybody else, the same twenty four hours that Justin Trudeau has in his day and Donald Trump has in his day  and regardless about how you feel about them personally, they both have countries to run.  God doesn’t give some people thirty-hour days and other people ten-hour days, every one of us gets twenty-four hours in our day, and every hour has sixty minutes in it, and every minute has sixty seconds in it.  We all get the same amount of time in our day, but each one of us will determine how we are going to spend those hours.

Somebody once said “We waste our time as if it were as worthless as money!”  You can always make more money but when time is gone it’s gone forever.

The third is this you cannot make time. All you can do is find time.  

Time is already made, and we can’t make any more of it.  All we can do is prioritize how we use time.  Each Monday morning, I receive an email from Roy Williams who runs an ad agency in Texas; awhile back I received this missive.  What would you create if you were given 250, 14-hour days to do it? Would you write a book or screenplay? Study a complex concept? Become fluent in a foreign language? Build a ship in a bottle? It’s been estimated that the average man will spend, in his lifetime, about 3,500 hours shaving. That’s 250, 14-hour days. 

Did you ever notice that the only one of the Seven Dwarfs who shaved was Dopey? This ought to tell us something. 

Each of us has ambitions, dreams and goals we would pursue “if only we had the time.” But we do have the time. We’re just doing something else with it. Like shaving.” 

Williams goes on to say: “When I’m on the road, the two questions I’m most often asked are, 
1. “Where do you find the time to write all those books?” and 
2. “Why do you wear pullover shirts and slip-on shoes and always look like you need a haircut?” No one has yet figured out that the second question answers the first.”

Williams isn’t trying to convince us to all stop shaving, whatever it is you shave, instead he’s simply illustrating that time is about choices.

I read prolifically; it is not unusual for me to read a couple of novels a week.  And people ask, “How do you make the time for that?” I don’t make the time for it, I find the time for it.  If I find myself with a minute or two free, I pick up a book, when other people watch television I read, while I watch television I read, I have been known to read at red lights. If I have an appointment with you for a coffee and you are late, I read, if I have an appointment to meet you at your house and I am early I will sit out in the car and read.  I find the time to do what I love to do. 

Solomon tells us in Ecclesiastes 3 that there is a time for everything in our life.  That may seem like a simplistic approach in the crazy world we seem to live in but the word of God tells us that there is time for us to do everything necessary in our life.  All we have to do is decide what is important enough for us to find time for. 

Too many of us are like the lady who had a poem on her refrigerator, someone asked her what it was and she said, “It represents how I need to re-evaluate my life, it starts “Lord, slow me down . . .” but I haven’t had time to read the rest of it.

Every one of us receives an equal amount of time; the only difference between us is how we choose to spend it.  Each week brings us 168 hours, no more, no less, 168 golden hours.  We will spend approximately 56 of those hours sleeping, 28 hours eating and attending to our personal needs and another 40 to 50 hours a week earning a living.  And that leaves us 30 – 40 hours a week that we get to choose what we want to do.  Like our old friend “pussy cat pussy cat” we often permit the urgent things to crowd out the important things in life.”

How often have you felt like you were madly spinning the plates that make up your life, your work responsibilities, your family responsibilities and personal responsibilities as fast as you can in an effort to keep everything moving, until in exhaustion you just can’t keep the effort up any longer and your world comes crashing down.

Even our kids are getting stressed out by trying to do too much. A while ago one of Angela’s Piano students, a girl probably ten years old at the time told Angela once that she was tired of doing so much, her parents had her enrolled in numerous activities and she looked at Angela and said “I just want to play with the kids next door.”  Do you remember that?  Just playing with the kids next door.  That’s what kids used to do, when we were kids our parents didn’t have us enrolled in a dozen different things, they didn’t have to book our playdates, there was time in our lives to just play with the kids next door.  So, what do we do?

1) In this hurry up world that we live in You Need to Find Time For Yourself.  At first glance that seems like a pretty hedonistic statement and I know that some would tell you that we spend too much of our time already for our own benefit and that isn’t what I mean at all.  God has made a big investment in your life.  He’s made you special.  And in creating you and not just making you mundane and ordinary but making you an individual statement of his divine wisdom he has said, “I’m giving you seventy years, more or less and it’s up to you to make an impact on this world.”  He felt you were important enough to create you, and you know that God don’t make junk, so don’t blow it.

I don’t mean that we need to spend time working for ourselves I mean we need time that we are alone with ourselves.  In John 6:15 When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.

There were times in Jesus ministry when he felt the need to be all alone.  There are times that we are told that he spent this time alone in prayer but there are other times such as the one above where it just tells us that Jesus went off by himself, no family, no friends no pressing crowds, just Jesus.

I realize that the reason a lot of people prefer not to be alone is that they don’t like the company when they are by themselves.  There are those who don’t like themselves very much and so they tend to shy away from spending much time with themselves.  So, we don’t spend enough time celebrating our specialness.  But in this hurry up world we sometimes need to just step back out of the picture and re-examine our life, our goals and where we are heading.  There are times that we need to reflect on who we are, and how special we are in the eyes of God.

a) Find Time to Improve Yourself.  Nothing is perfect in the rough.  A scraggly old tree can make a beautiful piece of furniture.  A piece of dull yellow rock can become an exciting piece of Gold jewellery.  A glittering chunk of quartz can become the Hope Diamond.  Each one of us is an unpolished diamond, do you believe that?  Do you believe that you are special?  You owe it to yourself and more importantly you owe it to God to see yourself improved.  There is so much to learn in this great world that God has given us.

Find time to improve yourself through knowledge, you know what they say, “Nobody can call you an old dog as long as you’re learning new tricks.”  And along with learning Find the time to perfect that which God has already given you.  If you sing you need to be the best singer that God can make you.  The same goes for preaching, I hope that I am a better preacher then I was last year.  What gifts and skills has God given you?  Each of us has been given something special and unique from God it’s up to us to do the best that we can with it.

b) Find Time to Enjoy Yourself. An anonymous friar in a Nebraska monastery wrote the following late in life I’m sure most of you have heard it:   If I had my life to live over I’d like to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual trouble, but I’d have fewer imaginary ones. You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter that I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds, I would pick more daisies.

2) You Need to Find Time for Others Even though it is important that we find time for ourselves we need to realise that we aren’t’ alone in this world.  Nearly four hundred years ago John Donne wrote “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main” there are times when we want to subscribe to being an island when we want to hide in a hole and never come up but if our life is going to be all that it can be then we need to reach out to those around us.  But in each of our lives are other people, people with whom we have to coexist and to those people we owe a certain obligation, and that obligation is time.

Most of us have a spouse, many of us have children at home, all of us have friends and you cannot maintain a relationship without putting in a certain amount of time.  And if you add to the responsibility of our family and friends the responsibility that comes from the gospel toward total strangers then we realise just how large those responsibilities are.

a) Your Family Needs Your Time.  Marital and parent child relationships must be the most neglected relationships in the world.  If we want a productive garden you don’t just plant it and leave it, you water it, weed it, fertilise it, nurture it, in other words you spend time with it.

But how often do we enter into a lifelong commitment with one another and then try to grow and sustain our marriage on 15 or 20 minutes a day?  Successful marriages don’t just happen; they require hard work and time.  I don’t mean time that you spend with each other I mean time you spend together; don’t confuse the two of them.

You and your spouse can sit on the same coach in the same room watching the same program on the same television or surfing the net on your laptops and still not be together.  You might as well be on separate planets for all you get out of that togetherness.  You are in your marriage because of a choice, you said I do, and they said I do, and when you did then you were done and now you need to work to make it work.  Invest some time in it and make it a viable relationship.

Find time to talk, find time to pray together, in talking to couples this seems to be one area we all have problems with, but I am convinced that it is essential in binding a Christian marriage together. And find time to be alone with one another. 

It’s scary when you meet couples who for twenty years have never had anything in common but their children.  They have never spent any quality time together without at least one kid.  Now I know it’s easy to get up on our sainthood pedestal and proclaim to the world what great parents we are but when the kids are gone and they will eventually be gone, will you know each other as someone other than mommy or daddy?

But that’s not to say that we don’t give our kid’s any of our time or attention. When you don’t attend to the garden of your children then you shouldn’t be disappointed at the end result. 

Now I’m preaching to myself here because there were times that I got my priorities mixed up and thought that Cornerstone was more important than Stephen and Deborah, and it wasn’t.  And your livelihood should never take premier place in your life either.  To paraphrase Jesus Christ what profiteth a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his children.

b) The World Needs Your Time.  There are so many opportunities to minister to people, but ministry always entails a commitment of time.  Ministry doesn’t happen in 2-minute slots.  You cannot touch people the way that Jesus Christ touched people without investing some of your time in them.  There is no such thing as instant ministry, and there is no such thing as instant compassion or instant love or instant understanding.  Jesus invested three years in the apostles’ lives and in reality, invested thirty three years of his life for every one of us.  If we are going to follow the example of Christ, then you are going to have to give time to hurting people. 

Maya Angelou writes “Since time is the one immaterial object which we cannot influence — neither speed up nor slow down, add to nor diminish — it is an imponderably valuable gift. Each of us has a few minutes a day or a few hours a week which we could donate to an old folks home or a children’s hospital ward. The elderly whose pillows we plump or whose water pitchers we refill may or may not thank us for our gift, but the gift is upholding the foundation of the universe.”

And Jesus said, “What you did for the least of these you did for me.”

3) You Need to Find Time For God.  If by chance you were to neglect time in your life for yourself or for others it would affect the quality of the time you spend on this terrestrial ball.  However if you neglect to make time in your life for God it will affect your quality of life for eternity.

a) Find Time To See God As Your Creator.  This old world didn’t happen by accident and you are not a mistake.  You are part of the broad scheme of the universe.  You need to realize that God is not just some impersonal force out there but has a very deep interest in your world and your life.  God took time out of his schedule to hand mold you, to make you who you are and what you are.  He took the time to colour your eyes and to form your frame.

David wrote in Psalm 46:10  be still, and know that I am God!  as you take time to look around, to gaze at the stars, to stand in the shadow of the mountains or to look out over the  ocean let your mind reflect on the fact that it didn’t just happen like that.  That there is a design and there is a plan.

But in all reality we need to see God as more then creator, b) Find Time to See Him as Your Saviour.  All too often when we get spinning all the plates in our lives, we feel like we can’t handle even one more plate, and as we look at Christianity it seems like it will be the plate that will bring them all down.  That is because we confuse religion with Christianity.  Bill Hybels stated once that he spells religion d o, but that he spells Christianity d o n e.

You see the reality of the gospel is laid down in Ephesians 2:8-9 God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.

How long does it take to form a relationship with God?  As long as it takes to ask him, to acknowledge that we can’t do it on our own and to ask him to do it for us.  How long will it last? Well in John 3:16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

And in Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don’t put it off in 2 Corinthians 6:2 For God says, “At just the right time, I heard you. On the day of salvation, I helped you.” Indeed, the “right time” is now. Today is the day of salvation.

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