Stop Squandering Your Time
I remember listening to a folk rock song in 1974 called Cat's in the Cradle, sung by Harry Chapin and it was his only number one hit. This song was about a busy father who couldn't spend time with his son. As the son grew, he asked his father to spend time with him, but his father always delayed the request. As a son, the son thought of the world of his father and aspired to be the same as him.
Here are a few verses:
My child arrived just the other day. He came to the world in the usual way. But there were planes to catch and bills to pay. He learned to walk while I was away. He was talking before I knew it, and as he grew He said, “I’m going to be like you, Dad. You know I’m going to be like you.”
My son turned ten just the other day. He said, “Thanks for the ball, now come on let’s play. Can you teach me to throw?” I said, “Not today, I’ve got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s OK.” And he walked away and he smiled and he said “You know I’m going to be like you, Dad, You know I’m going to be like you.” The final verse says: I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away. I called him up just the other day. I said, “I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.” He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time. You see, my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu, But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad. It’s been real nice talking to you.” And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.
In a glaring change of roles, the son now has no time to spend with his father. Dad realises that his boy has become just like him.
Sandy Chapin, Harry Chapin's wife, wrote the lyrics of the song. Her poem was inspired by the relationship she observed between her first husband and his father. The poem didn't interest Chapin much until after his son, Josh was born.
When their son was seven, Harry was performing 200 concerts a year, and Sandy asked him when he was going to take some time to be with their son. Harry promised to make some time at the end of the summer. He never made it. That summer, on his way to a business meeting, a truck rear-ended his Volkswagen, it burst into flames, and he was killed. If Harry Chapin had to do it all over again, I wonder how he would have prioritised his time.
The Bible is filled with versus about upholding right family values. One verse that comes to mind is 1Timothy 5:8:
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Provision is not just limited to money. It means whatever assistance is needed, whether physical, emotional, financial, etc. Do we pay enough attention to our family members? Do we prioritise family time? In this verse, the apostle Paul calls us to nurture, care and support our family members, especially those who are the neediest and most vulnerable. Paul says that failing to provide for one's family members is like renouncing one's Christian faith. We need God's directions to prioritise our time for our family. Managing our days wisely requires God's guidance.
Teach me to number my days. Forgive me when I uselessly squander my time or waste it on things with no eternal value. Lord, give me the wisdom to use my time doing things that have eternal significance. Forgive me if I have made other things a priority over family time. I commit my family to the Your hands and pray that You will guide all our family members in the right direction. Let us be faithful to do our part then, while we trust in You to do Your part. Let us prioritise our time for Your glory.
In Jesus' name, amen.