Time is precious stuff. And I don't mean simply in terms of hourly wages. I'm thinking more in terms of the big picture. What the Bible means when it says: "Teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart." (Psalm 90:12 NRSV)

To the degree that life is sacred or viewed as a gift from God, time is also sacred and a gift from him. So it shouldn't be abused or desecrated.

Some of us abuse time by chronic procrastination. We put off things that need attention. We delay to the last possible minute. We create needless panic for ourselves and everyone who depends on us by being so irresponsible. It may be rooted in insecurity or fear of failure. Some people even think it is a form of trying to wrest control away from a professor or boss. Maybe it's just laziness.

Although all of us sometimes manufacture problems for ourselves and others by putting off until tomorrow what could be done today, there is another abuse of time that seems even more pervasive among the people I know. It has certainly been a bigger menace to me and the people whose lives are bound up with mine. That more common desecration of time is frenetic hurry.

Type-A personalities tend to push too hard. We meet the deadlines others set for us and then self-impose deadlines others would never dare set. Everything is done in haste. And there is a great deal of ego satisfaction in hearing others talk about "how hard he works" or express amazement that "she can run circles around anybody else in the company." But there are downsides too.

One person's constant hurry becomes others' stress. The compulsion to "get it done" quickly degenerates into tasks getting priority over relationships, accomplishments being more important than friends and family. Then one begins to wonder about the absence of peace and joy and contentment with life.

Time is God's gift.
Sometimes our theology contributes to a frantic lifestyle. If life is just about "getting ready to meet Jesus," then we'd better hurry to do all the serving and witnessing and sharing we can cram in. Otherwise we are wasting precious time.

Time is God's gift, and life is not to be abused with frantic haste. What of the spiritual value of living in the present? Playing games with your children? Giving them undivided attention? Paying attention to people in the midst of your busy life? Prioritizing them while still meeting deadlines and being productive?

Neither frantic busyness nor careless inattention honors God's gift of time so much as making it holy by being aware of those with whom we are sharing it.