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Summary: Time is one of the great philosophical questions of all time – if I may make such a circular statement. Humankind has been in conniption fits since the dawn of time trying to discover its nature. What is time? How does it move? We know how to tell tim

Note: Although not quoted directly, I am sure that this sermon was greatly influenced by Chuck Swindoll’s work Living on the Ragged Edge.

Arriving on Time

Ecclesiastes 3:1-22

Cascades Fellowship CRC, JX MI

April 17, 2005

This morning I want to dispel one of the most widespread myths to ever infect the heart of man. If there was ever a lie that did more damage with more subtlety, I have never heard about it. A person could travel the entire globe and not find a more insidious, yet more innocent looking deception. I have heard it spouted from the mouths of old and young, dark-skinned and light-skinned, those considered wise and those considered fools. This fabrication has no gender gap, no generation gap, no socio-economic gap – it is as pervasive in one social circle as the next.

Anyone have any guesses as to what it might be? Go ahead, someone take a shot at it. It is one of those things that once I say it you’ll think to yourself, “Oh yeah! I should have known that.” Are you curious yet?

This ugly falsehood usually shows up after we, or someone we know has had a sleepless night. After dragging ourselves through the day, weary beyond belief, someone invariably asks, “What are you going to do tonight?” Our bleary-eyed response usually sounds like this, “I’m going to go to bed early and catch up on some sleep.” Or if it happens to be a good friend who is sleep-deprived, we might offer this advice, “Why don’t hit the sack and catch up on your sleep?” Either way, it is wrong-headed. Sleep lost is sleep lost – there is no such thing as catching up on sleep.

Now why do I say that? Because there are two dimensions to sleep that are necessary for the body to feel rested. The first is the quality or depth of the sleep. This dimension we have some measure of influence over. A good mattress, a comfortable, supportive pillow, maybe some music or other “white noise” can impact how well we sleep. We can even use different kinds of equipment – like the masks used to relieve sleep apnea – or medications to help us sleep more soundly.

But the second dimension is one that we cannot impact in any way. We cannot change its nature, nor can we change its measure. It is time. All we can do is use our time wisely to ensure that there is enough left at the end of the day to allow an adequate amount of sleep. Quantity is just as important as quality when it comes to sleep. Every medical advance known to mankind cannot alter this; regardless of how soundly you sleep if you don’t get enough – if you don’t allow enough time – you will be tired.

Time – and so, sleep – cannot be managed by cost analysis. Once you get to zero – you’re at zero. You cannot run a deficit one day and use a surplus the next day that you will just shuffle over to make up for what was lacking the before. We like to think we can, but the reality is that once time is lost – and so once sleep is lost – you cannot get it back. You can use time the next day to compensate for the loss, but you will never regain the same amount of time, or sleep – you had the day before. Allocating time to “make up” for lost time means that the time used for “making up” is lost for any other purpose.

Time is one of the great philosophical questions of all time – if I may make such a circular statement. Humankind has been in conniption fits since the dawn of time trying to discover its nature. What is time? How does it move? We know how to tell time, but we can’t affect it. We can’t speed it up or slow it down. We realize it has this irascible characteristic of seeming to fly by when we are in the arms of our lover, but crawl by when the preacher is speaking. So it seems to vary – but this is an illusion in our perception of reality. Time remains constant for all practical purposes.

Solomon, too, tried his hand at understanding time. We met Solomon last week in our first sermon of this series out of Ecclesiastes called The Trouble with Living. He is the son and heir of King David, Israel’s greatest king. Solomon became wise and wealthy beyond all comprehension. As his influence grew, his heart began to stray from his roots. He worshipped foreign gods, had hundreds of wives and thousands of concubines, and began to despair because he could find no satisfaction. So he set out to find the meaning of life under the sun – that is life on earth without hope beyond this life.

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