As I sit in my home study writing this article, I’m staring at a picture that hangs on the wall above my desk. It looks down upon all that I do. My wife took this picture, enlarged it, and placed it in a nice oak frame. I remember the day I asked her to take this picture. We lived in Dallas at the time, and the sun was shining, as it always seems to do on Dallas afternoons. We were enjoying a Saturday of exploration as we journeyed through the city with her new camera in hand. I was simply along for the ride, serving as her assistant.
As we walked down a street together, I noticed a bell tower in a large church. The spire rose into the air and dominated the sky, commanding all that lurked below. A clock graced the top of the bell tower, and on the face of that clock were two words in black letters. At my request, my wife snapped a picture of the clock face—that is the picture that sits above my desk. The numbers on the clock are Roman numerals; the short hand points at the number four and the large hand shows a few ticks past the number twelve. The two words on the clock face in those bold black letters are simple: Night Cometh. They are taken from the gospel of John. Jesus says to His disciples, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4; KJV). Night cometh. That picture sits above my desk as a reminder: “Make the best use of your time, Jason. Because night cometh when your time to do any more kingdom work will end.”
This principle proves necessary for the Christian in our work, our rest, our play, and even in our relationships. We want to make the best use of our time, because night is coming when no more can be done for the sake of the kingdom in this life. Have you thought about that in your relationships with others?
As time-bound individuals, we engage in relationships with other time-bound individuals. There are only so many years, days, hours, and minutes we have to invest in the lives of others. And they are worth investing in. So many of the things we expend our energy and time on disappear and will not last, but people will. Therefore, considering the use of our time in these relationships proves important. We know this. How often has a young mother or father heard from an older individual, “Treasure these years with your child; they go by too fast”? How often do loved ones we have lost come to mind? And we think, if only we had time for one more short conversation with them.
As we consider the good use of time in our relationships with others, it is helpful to think through the often-used grid of quantity time and quality time. Some advocate quantity time as opposed to quality time in our relationships. Others advocate quantity over quality. However, both are important.
Quantity time with others matters. First, it shows what we love. A teenage boy will dribble a basketball for hours until the sunlight has disappeared because he loves the game. An apprentice will devote years to learning a trade. A lawyer will pore over books for days to inform his legal brief. We spend time on what we think is important.
If a husband comes home from work every evening, sits down in front of the television, and only finds a minute here or there between commercials to talk with his wife, it doesn’t matter how much he contends that he loves her—his actions demonstrate something else. She feels and knows it. We spend time with those we love as we are able. Circumstances do not always allow it. But as life affords opportunity, we seize it.