‘Time Peace’

  colson2Imagine an archeological dig hundreds of years in the future. On each human skeleton—young and old alike—the diggers find a shackle on the left wrist. Some people’s bonds are brilliant silver or gold, others appear to be leather or plastic. A few of these manacles are strangely ticking. It seems, the archeologists surmise, these people were ruled by this little ticking object. Perhaps they considered it a household god of sorts.   Well, our future archeologists wouldn’t be too far off. We are constantly ruled by our watches. We have fifteen minutes to do one thing. Two hours to do another. We’ve only got five minutes to visit a friend or twenty to take for lunch. Our lives, as the poet T.S. Eliot once said are “measured out with coffee spoons.” If we aren’t careful, this constant worry about time can strangle our relationships and stifle our days. Time can become an idol.   In her outstanding new book, Time Peace, my friend and former colleague Ellen Vaughn offers sound biblical principles on how to think about time. She says, “Time is not our enemy when we are friends with God. It is but a resource to be used, like food or oxygen. We can keep it, rather than be kept by it.”   Ellen reminds us that God gives us enough time each day to do His will for that day. She reminds us of the example of Jesus, who, while he had an urgent message, did not seem hurried or stressed. While his disciples yelled at people to go away, Jesus was not stingy with his time. But he also didn’t try to “do it all.” He did not heal everyone. He did not preach everywhere. He took time away from the pressing crowds and he lived well and completely, all within the constraints of time.   Like Christ, we are to seize our days for the kingdom, but not with anxiety. We trust God that the time we have to spend, if submitted to Him, is leaving a legacy which outlasts time itself.   In one moving story, Ellen tells of some missionaries to Vietnam in the mid 1960s. They knew it was dangerous to be in the country, so they had taken precautions, but they also knew that they had important work to do. One of the missionaries, Bob Ziemer, had three tactical goals he was trying to accomplish: translating the Bible into the local dialect, training indigenous leadership for the church, and finding local leadership for a leprosarium they’d started.   It was only days after those goals were accomplished that the Tet Offensive exploded throughout South Vietnam. Six of these missionaries were killed, but their families had the assurance that God had apportioned their days. As missionary Ruth Thompson put it in a letter home to her children in college some months before her death, “Don’t you know we are immortal until our work is done?” Understanding time from a biblical perspective, as Ellen Vaughn’s new book so skillfully shows us, can give us this same peace and focus as we live well in the time given us.   Time is not measured in the terms of the length of one’s life. It wasn’t cut short for Ruth Thompson. Ellen tells of going to Vietnam a few years ago, visiting the very area that Thompson worked in and seeing thriving churches. Her mission on earth was accomplished in God’s allotted time.   Tomorrow I’m going to discuss how Ellen Vaughn’s book, Time Peace, gave me a wonderful new perspective not only on the nature of time, but on the God who created it.    
Today's BreakPoint Offer
Ellen Vaughn, Time Peace: Living Here and Now with a Timeless God, (Zondervan, 2007).  
For Further Reading and Information
Find out more about author Ellen Vaughn. Stephen Grezlak, “Redeeming the Time: Becoming a Caretaker of God’s Gift of Time,” Worldview Challenge, April 1997.   Dr. Thom Ranier, “Are You A Good Steward of Your Time?”, 2003.   Martha Anderson, “‘Time Peace’- Take the Time to Read It,” The Point, 6 June 2007.


Chuck Colson



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