You ain't no friend of mine
I don't know where I'm going
I think I'm out of my mind
Thinking about time
-Hootie and the Blowfish "Time"
It doesn't make a damn bit of sense.
As you may have heard through the gossip lines, a young man in Dell Rapids died over the weekend. What happened and how he died is inconsequential right now, but it has left a lot of folks in shock and in a lot of pain.
I never had the opportunity to talk to the young man. But as a radio announcer, I had the chance to call his name several times in area and Madison High School football games. Our connection was my mentioning him during the game broadcasts, but I am feeling a sense of loss.
I could not even begin to imagine what his family and friends are going through.
Time... it's funny... you think you have an infinite amount and then all of a sudden it's gone without warning. And unlike a video game, you can't hit the reset button, punch in a secret code, or put more coins in the machine. Once this game's over, it's over.
I wish I could wax poetic and say something profound and meaningful. But it would just be empty words. One of the young man's friends puts it more eloquently than I ever could.
Casey, if you're reading this... I hope you don't mind me posting this.
The Gift of Time
Written By: Casey Michel
Some people like to talk about the “best gift they’ve ever been given.” People talk about something like a car or jewelry, and they usually cover everything in between. However, the best gift ever given to mankind is not given to us on this earth. When God creates a human He gives them the best gift anyone could ask for: the gift of time. Along with the gift of time, God gives us a side gift: the gift of free will – the ability to decide what we wish to do with our time, either good or bad. It took me nearly 20 years and one tragic event to realize what a precious gift the gift of time really is.
You see, I always used to be like everybody in this world; I would always wonder how I was going to get everything done that needed to be done, wondering why there were never enough hours in the day. You look around and see the world moving at such a fast pace that you wonder how anybody could get by, and I felt like I was in the same boat with everyone else.
“Hey Casey, can you help me with my math homework?”
--- “Sorry, not right now man, I’m busy.”
“Hey Casey, got a minute to talk?”
--- “Hey I’d love to, but I gotta get somewhere quick.”
I didn’t always have enough time to help out a friend. After all I had my own stuff to take care of, just like everyone else. And if I couldn’t make time for a friend or a loved one, how could I make time for anybody else? When I saw a stranger on crutches struggling with their books, I just kept walking. I couldn’t help them; I was in too big of a rush. A rush to where? I don’t know, but I had places to be and things to do, and I didn’t have nearly enough hours in the day to do it.
And so I went about my life day by day by day. I was always in a hurry, always in a rush; I didn’t have time to do anything.
That was up until that February Sunday changed everything.
Suddenly, I wasn’t in such a rush; suddenly, I had time. I had time to help a friend with homework, or to talk to them about something. I had time to help carry books for the stranger on crutches. Not only did I now have time, but I somehow made time, too. I made time to ask a friend “Hey, how you holding up?” “Hey, how’s everything going for you?” I made time to tell my family and friends that I love them. I made time to let everyone know that I’m here for them whenever they need me; that I will always answer if they call. And I know I would answer if they called. You can bet on it. After all – now I had the time to.
It’s almost as if God granted me more hours in the day. It’s almost as if He not only gave me more time to do what had to get done, but also more time to do what needed to be done. But this isn’t at all the case. The amount of time God gave me on this earth did not change one second from Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. I will not live one second longer or shorter because of what happened on a football field in Dell Rapids in the morning hours of February 22, 2009. Neither will anybody who reads this or who was affected by that tragic event. No, rather, God granted me the ability to realize what a precious gift time really is; and to use that time to seize every second, every moment that I am on this earth.
It was through this tragic event that I learned probably the most important lesson of my life:
You don’t realize how much time you have, until you realize that time is all you’ve got
I mean think about it: what do we have in life besides time? If a fire burns down our house, we will still have time. If a loved one passes away, we still have time. Things happen on a personal level: cars break down, jewelry loses its shine, we grow out of clothes, relationships break up…. Things happen on a wide-scale level, too: wars are being fought, poverty strikes nations, natural disasters devastate areas…. Yet through it all what we still have is the gift of time.
There’s also the other side of the coin that we must see. While I now realize how much time I have during the day, I have no way of knowing how much time I have left on this earth. I could live to be 100, or I could die tomorrow. And once my time is up, I am completely out of it. I only get one chance to use this gift that God has given me.
And that’s the key to it all; the use of the gift. God did not give us the gift of time so that everyone could follow the same path – the easy path, the straight and narrow one – to arrive safely at death. No, He gave it to us so that we could use it as we choose; that free will aspect. While we can never know how much time God has given us on this earth, we will always have the ability to do with it as we please.
In the end, that’s how we will be judged. When we get to the Gates of Heaven, there will be God waiting to punch our time card that He gave us when he created us. And then God will look at us and judge us. The thing is, He won’t judge us on the number of hours we put in. He won’t look and say “You lived to be 100, come on in” or “You only lived to be 22? Sorry, you didn’t put in enough time….” No, God won’t do that because the number of hours we put in are not up to us, but to Him. Rather, God will look at what we did while on earth. He will judge us by the way we used the gift; He will judge us by what we did with the time He allotted us.
That is why I am writing this. It is my way of using the time that has been given to me. I am not writing this to try to tug on people’s emotions, or to make people regret anything that has happened in their past. I am writing this to make a difference; to change the way people view those hours of the day from here out. I used to sit around and watch the seconds of my life tick away, but not anymore. Now those seconds don’t drag on or fly by like they used to. Now those seconds don’t seem so insignificant.
You see, this is the way I am choosing to use my gift of time. I have 3 goals in life, and I know that if I can fulfill them, I will have successfully used the time given to me on earth. These are 3 goals that I think everyone in the world could live by. They are 3 goals that everyone could strive to achieve with their gift of time.
1. Make a difference in the lives of others. Whether I make a difference in the lives of just my family, or just my friends; whether I make a difference in the life of one, or the lives of 10,000 people – I want to make a difference for the better.
2. Be the change you wish to see in the world. I see and hear so many people these days wishing for things to be better, but yet doing nothing to make them better. I want the world to be a better place, and I want the world to change – and I will do everything I can while on this earth to be that change I wish to see in the world.
3. Leave the world a better place than you found it. This is the tie in to everything. This is the way to bring it all together. No matter how much time I have on this earth, I can always make a difference. One way or another, I can leave this place a little better than when I found it. And really – that’s all that can be asked of anyone.
So here we are today, slowly coming around to coping with a tragedy that shook a town and a community to its very core. We wish we could go back in time and change something to make it different. We wish time would just stand still until we are able to deal with this and move on. But the fact of the matter is that time goes on. Our time on this earth is still ticking.
Nothing we do can change the past, but everything we do can change the future
We can’t change what happened on that Sunday morning. But we can change what might happen this Sunday morning, or next Sunday morning, or the Sunday after that. We can do this by using the gift of time that God has given us, and using it to the fullest. I encourage everyone to realize what a precious gift time really is, and I encourage everyone to use their gift to the fullest. Reach out to loved ones and strangers alike. Let people know that you’re always there for them. Do everything you can to make a difference in this world. But above all and most importantly: PRAY. Pray that God bless everyone you love and everyone in this world. Pray that God helps everyone involved through this tragic and tough time. The easiest way to make a difference in someone’s life is to send a prayer their way.
It is not going to be easy to continue on with our time. For many people this is going to be the toughest thing they ever have or ever will have had to deal with. It’s going to take an unbelievable amount of strength to press onward. That strength will not only come from ourselves, but from the people around us. Everybody is going to question if they are strong enough to get past this. But that’s the amazing thing with the way God created us: He doesn’t just put everything on the surface; He doesn’t let everyone know who they are and what gifts they have when He creates them. No, because that would be the easy path – the straight and narrow one. Instead, God makes us fight for what we truly believe in, for what we truly want. The strength that comes from within each of us won’t be evident; it won’t just be on the surface. It’s something that we have to delve deep within ourselves to find; it’s something that we have to fight for with all our hearts. After all,
You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have
Personally, I don’t want God to question me when he punches my time card at the Gates of Heaven. I don’t want there to be any doubt in his mind about whether I should come in – any doubt whether I used my gift of time the way He intended it to be used. I want to use every second I have on this earth, and I want to live every moment to the fullest.
You must dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die tomorrow; and live every moment like it’s your last
Do everything you can to use every second that God has given you on this earth.
After all, this time on earth is the only time we’ve got.
In closing I leave you this...
Dona nobis pacem.