The Romans were never able to get their calendar in order. It always came up a bit short because they used the lunar cycles to measure the months of the year. To fix the problem, political officials simply added extra days and months—one year was even 445 days long! And this was a breeding ground for corruption, because politicians learned that they could merely adjust the calendar to keep themselves in office for longer. As historian Rick Beyer said, “In essence they were stealing time to further their own political purposes.”1
You can’t blame them. We would all like to steal more time. Like Jim Croce, there are times when we wish we could “save time in a bottle.” But the truth is that we cannot steal or save time—all the time we have is limited, fading, and borrowed from the God who is timeless (Col. 1:17). We are promised many things in Scripture, but tomorrow is not one of them.
Our lives are like sand in an hourglass, and God will not add any more. The daylight of life will only burn for so long before the night of death arrives to snatch us away. Life is a clock that wastes no time ticking off the seconds. Life is very short, as the psalmist said: “Man is like a breath; his days are like a passing shadow” (Psalm 144:4). Similarly, James wrote, “Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14).
Therefore, we must always be, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16, KJV). While we have time on earth, we must labor for the kingdom that is not affected by time: “We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4). We should live each day with a raw awareness that it may be our last. As the psalmist prayed, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). We should say with a heart of submission, “But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15a).
“Sovereign ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All our times are in Thy hand,
All events at Thy command.
He that formed us in the womb,
He shall guide us to the tomb;
All our ways shall ever be
Ordered by His wise decree.” — John Ryland (1753-1825), Sovereign Ruler of the Skies
1. Beyer, Rick. The Greatest Stories Never Told (New York: Harper Collins, 2003), 1.
Bible Gleanings is a widely-read weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky.
Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (English Shepherd), and Dot (Bluetick Beagle).
For more devotional entries like this, check out Brandon’s latest book, Bible Gleanings Volume II, which features 100 daily devotionals gleaned from God’s word: