Consider Your Ways…
Time is such a precious commodity of which we can never truly gain more. Yes, we can get an extension on a deadline, reserve additional days for an enjoyable vacation stay, we can even turn our clocks an hour back every November, and get an extra hour to sleep, but all of that comes in exchange for something else, time swapped, and can be as ill-conceived as turning the clocks forward in spring for some kind of daylight savings. We pay a price for every minute spent, every hour used, and the question that invariably must be on our minds, “Is the time I am spending worthy of its limited availability?” With an understanding that once a day is spent it cannot be retrieved and spent again, I find myself pondering the Lord’s admonition, “Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:5).
“Is the time I am spending worthy of its limited availability?”
Throughout my life I have wasted mountains and mountains of that precious commodity of which I speak. Oh, the hours of youth and young adulthood wasted with my fingers on joysticks and buttons fighting off some galactic enemy inside of an arcade game. ‘Tempest’ was my nemesis, and the numbers of quarters consumed were not so valuable as the time lost that could have been spent so much more wisely. How about the near countless hours of inane entertainment viewed on a color screen, whether in my house or at the movie theater? Most of that time lost was watching things beneath my intelligence, and at times even below the moral standards that I had been taught to follow by goodly parents and living prophets. How I would fight to defend within my head the supposed value of a program based on its history, the likability of a movie star, or the preferences of my peers. Oh, with such sorrow I express, that I could have that time back.
It makes me think of the encounter between Ebenezer Scrooge and his ghostly friend Jacob Marley in Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novel, ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Scrooge had fooled himself into believing that his and Marley’s lives were lives well spent in the pursuit of good and positive things. In the mind of Ebenezer Scrooge success and wealth in business were those things. Scrooge declared, “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob.” Marley abruptly corrected Scrooge, “Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
“Business! Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
From Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”
I mourn with Jacob Marley, “Oh, that I could have that time again!!!” It is not so much that my time is up, but oh how I could have spent it better.
In the days of King Darius of Persia, during the captivity of Israel, the word of the Lord came to a prophet Haggai. Many had been allowed to return to Jerusalem, yet instead of doing those things that matter most, following the Lord’s commands and building up His House once again, the Israelites were focused more on their own houses, their own gain and comfort. And the Lord said, “Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Consider your ways” (Haggai 1:4-7).
Referencing these verses of scripture, Elder Terence M. Vinson taught, “We can feel enduring joy when our Savior and His gospel become the framework around which we build our lives. However, it’s so easy for that framework to become, instead, the things of the world, where the gospel sits as an optional extra or as simply attending church for two hours on Sundays. When this is the case, it is tantamount to putting our wages into ‘a bag with holes.’ …There is no treasure, nor any hobby, nor any status, nor any social media, nor any video games, nor any sport, nor any association with a celebrity, nor anything on earth that is more precious than eternal life. So the Lord’s counsel to every person is ‘consider your ways’” (General Conference, October 2019).
“We can feel enduring joy when our Savior and His gospel become the framework around which we build our lives. However, it’s so easy for that framework to become, instead, the things of the world,…”
Elder Terence M. Vinson
There is so much better we can do with our time, and time is precious. We know that time goes on forever, but there is a finite amount of time that we will spend in our mortal sphere, and regardless of mortality or immortality, time once spent is time never retrieved, never to be spent again. Well it was said by the ghost Jacob Marley, as he cried out in frustration with the lack of care and seriousness Ebenezer Scrooge was giving to his words, “Hear me! My time is nearly gone.”
So it is with us. Our time is limited, for some of us, nearly gone, and the time that has just passed is gone forever. I say unto you, hear me, for my time passes quickly, and as one who has wasted a mountain’s worth it, I have little left to waste. We all have little time to waste. Leisure time is good to be had, and it should be had, but with good taste, with good judgment, and without squandering it on what would draw us away from the best things we could be doing, without waste.
“Our time is limited, for some of us, nearly gone, and the time that has just passed is gone forever.”
May we consider our ways and be about building up the kingdom of God, one family at a time, starting with our own and sharing with our friends, that we might in this life establish a hope of the life to come. His kingdom awaits. All we have to do is live for it today and we will enjoy it in the here and now, as in the life to come. Let us squander no more this precious time which we have been given, that we might go throughout life making the building of God’s kingdom, making our fellow man, the children of our God, our ever concerning business. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.