Time: Spent or invested?

I was a sophomore in high school when Jim Croce’s song “Time in a Bottle” reached #1 on the charts. 

He had written the song a year earlier, after his wife had told him she was pregnant. ABC Records hadn’t planned to release the song as a single, but, in 1973, Jim Croce was tragically killed in a plane crash. 

Radio stations played “Time in a Bottle” as a tribute to his life, and it quickly achieved its #1 ranking.

If you could put time in a bottle . . . 

If you don’t know the song, take two-and-a-half minutes and watch the lyric video.

The words are especially profound, knowing that he wrote them a year before he died. 

The chorus Croce wrote said that there never seemed to be enough time to do what we want to do once we figure out what we most want to do

“Time in a Bottle” was written as a love song from Croce to his wife. But, with a few biblical changes, it could be a great love song to our Lord.  

Keeping time 

I had an appointment last week, and it was time to find my mask and go. I did my best with a haircut that is about three months old and got ready to leave my house. I grabbed my watch and, out of habit,  glanced at the time. 

My first thought was that I needed a new battery. My next thought was the truth: I hadn’t worn that watch since Daylight Savings Time kicked in. 

I had been living at least two months with no need to keep a tight schedule.

That moment is what prompted this blog post. In two months’ time, I have become a person who doesn’t live her life according to a watch or a calendar. In fact, half the time I have to think about what day of the week it is.  

Like the song says, we can’t keep time in a bottle. But then, God didn’t create time for that purpose. 

Spending time 

The Fall in the Garden of Eden created the reason we value, even cherish, time

Before the Fall, time didn’t matter. Adam and Eve spent their time in the garden living because it wasn’t until after the Fall that they had to think about dying. 

One of the great gifts God gave us after the Fall was the passage of time. 

We know we only have a measure of time to spend on earth. The passage of each day provides us with a sense that we are constantly moving forward. Kids are excited to get older. At some point, we reach the age we would like time to move a little more slowly. Why was aging God’s plan? Why do the days grow longer, then shorter? Warmer, then colder? Why does the moon shine brightly, then fade, then grow brighter again? Why is there a growing season and a time for the fields to stand empty?  

Almost every aspect of this world measures time, and we have the same number of hours to spend per day. 

Time isn’t saved in a bottle; it is spent as the cost for living each day. 

Time invested 

My parents wanted their children to learn how to save money so, one Christmas, my sisters and I each got piggy banks. It was a good idea, but I’m not sure it ever became a good lesson. Saving money only became important to us when we wanted something we weren’t able to buy right away.  

A lot of people are worried about their investments. The pandemic has infected just about everything, including our retirement funds. The money managers tell us we shouldn’t worry because, if we don’t need to use that money, it isn’t a long-term problem. We just need to invest it wisely and everything will work out eventually.  

We invest money because, one day, our investments should be worth more than what we have saved in a bank account. The same is true with our time. 

Time saved is often worth more than time spent. Time invested tends to produce the highest value. 

God’s purpose for our time

King Solomon wrote Ecclesiastes at the end of his life. There is no man in Scripture who accomplished more with his time than David’s son. Israel achieved its height of power, wealth, and influence under his leadership. And King Solomon referred to most of his accomplishments as a “chasing of the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:11).  

At the end of his life, he realized it wasn’t all the achievements that mattered most, it was wisdom. That’s why he wanted to write Ecclesiastes. 

Chapter 3 begins with the familiar verses, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” After Solomon writes his list of all the things there is “a time to” do or a time “for,” he writes one of his most important lessons about time. 

Solomon taught, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him” (Ecclesiastes 3:12–14). 

Why did God create a world that measures time? 

So we would realize that what we do in life is for the moment, but everything God does through our lives “will endure forever.”  

God created time, and the passage of time, so that people would understand how much they need him, eternally. 

To “fear God” is to live with reverent awe of his greatness and a godly understanding of our own limitations. 

The purpose of our time on earth is to “fear God” and help others do the same. 

Time to reflect 

Has it been a while since you spent time in reverent awe of God? 

Do you need to remember that God created your life for an eternal purpose and then gave you time to accomplish that purpose? 

One of the great blessings of this shut-in period of time is the knowledge that we are not shut down. There is a purpose for this day, or God wouldn’t have given it to us.  

How many times did we hear ourselves say, “I just wish I had more time to . . . ?” 

You have time now. You are shut in but not shut down. The key: Just don’t shut out the One who gives you his purpose for each day.   

I read the lyrics of Jim Croce’s song “Time in a Bottle” and added a biblical perspective. The song became a devotion to the Lord and a good reminder that, while we can’t save time, we can invest it eternally.  

Jesus described heaven by saying, “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3–5). 

“There will be no more night.” We won’t measure our time in days, weeks, months and years. No one wears a watch in heaven or manages a calendar because time no longer exists.  

Until then, let’s invest the time God has given us in those things that will matter eternally. 

We can’t save time in a bottle, but we can invest it in heaven.