It’s About Time!

  • Randy Karlberg
Old photo of Alaska Natives walking in the snow

If you grew up in our American culture, chances are that you have heard the phrase “It’s about time” strongly from a maternal or paternal authority’s voice.  This phrase usually means that the person speaking can’t believe it took this long for a particular event or conclusion to occur.  When you think about it, almost everything in our lives is put within the boundaries of time.  Whether it is the ticking off of actual seconds or if we are just talking about the time of seasons and years passing, time has a very real impact in our lives.  As several of us are preparing to take a trip to four different villages in rural Alaska, we are spending two mornings a week preparing for our time working with the schools and people of these villages.  One of our recent prep mornings we were learning about the culture and people.  The story was told that early in the last century clocks were brought to some of the rural villages in Alaska.  As a matter of fact, in the early 1900’s some missionaries purchased a clock tower for the church in Noorvik, Alaska.  The price tag was $342 delivered.  Introducing “time” in hours, minutes, and seconds was a significant change for rural Arctic life.  This had a strong impact on life in those villages.  

All of humankind is hemmed into the boundaries of day and night, and the advancing of seasons and years.  History records plenty of stories of those who have invested large portions of their life here on earth trying to get more “time.”  Whether it is the “fountain of youth” in an attempt to push back at growing old or the idea of traveling in time, the pursuit of conquering the problem of advancing time has occupied ideas throughout history.  More recently culture has seen the pursuit of tools or devices whose sole purpose is to accomplish tasks quicker so we have more time for what we desire to do. But if you look at your life honestly, do you feel like you have more free time in your life now?  Or have you just filled the open time slots with other interests that keep you busier than ever?  

As I have worked through the challenges of having my mother pass away in the span of one weekend and then three years later my father as well, I have come to realize that I always want “one more.”  What I wouldn’t give for one more phone call with them, or one more visit.  I would love to sit with them one more time and listen to the stories of their life over one more cup of coffee and a doughnut!  We always will want “one more” with those that we love and cherish.  But when it comes close to the end with certain people or situations, it is often too late to fill our “time spent with” quotient.  When people look back at the end of their lives rarely do they lament such things as material items they don’t have or titles they were not able to accomplish.  At the end of life you really start to see what matters most in life to people.  So, I will ask you the question that I have pondered in recent days, looking forward to my last days, however many the Lord grants me, and trying not to have regrets.  The question is, what will you want more of on the cusp of your demise?  Go ahead, take some TIME and think about it.  Maybe even write it down so you can check every so often and see if you are investing your time adequately.  

I do not think I will want more awards or assets.  Of course, I want my family to be blessed and not be a burden to them.  But I want to have more time with my family and friends.  I want quality time with them, shared memories that we can recall and reminisce about.  I want my wife, children, and grandchildren to know without a doubt that I love them and am so thankful to the Lord for them.  I don’t want them to have to try and remember if I ever told them I loved them!  I want them to know I am proud of them!  I want them to know that I, as the Apostle John, have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the Truth!  

The steps I am taking so that I will not be wanting in my final hours are these:  First, be ALL there with people when I am with them.  Do not be distracted with a phone or work.  Make a conscious decision to put those things aside.  Second, enjoy time with people even if you are not enjoying it.  It is the relationship that is important.  It is really not about what you are doing together.  So, don’t be a curmudgeon.  Enjoy your time with people.  Third, be diligent with scheduling time with the people you need to be with.  If you think about someone, call them and set up a time to get together.  Make people a priority in your life.  And finally, don’t be in a hurry when you are spending time with people.  One of the most beautiful things about living in rural Alaska is that relationships with people are very important.  And time is not a big pressure.  Take the time you have with people seriously and do not be in a rush to move on to the next task.  Stay and enjoy as if this was your last good opportunity together.  

We should treat people the way Jesus treated them.  In Mark 10:13-16 for example; “And they were bringing children to Him that He might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.  But when Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’  And He took them in His arms and blessed them, laying His hands on them.”  While the main point of this passage is not how Jesus treated young children, it is not to be missed that Jesus was more than willing to be disturbed by people, even those who others viewed as not a priority.  He always had time for people.  He enjoyed the time that He had with them to the fullest.  

Take time for what is most important in life.  Do a little self-search and put some priorities in place.  Don’t set yourself up for the feeling of I wish I would have made time for them later in life.  It’s about Time!