In a few hours I will attend the grave-side service of Lee Anderton, the oldest member of Grace Community Church. Lee died this week at 101 years of age.
When I met Lee and he joined our congregation, he was already in his mid-eighties. I quickly learned that Lee’s mental age was much younger than his body. He had helped plant a church in his seventies, was still working in his shop making furniture for others, never missed a Sunday at church, and hung out with people decades younger than he.
I heard some of Lee’s story over many lunch-time conversations. He told me how his early plans to be a pastor never materialized, but that he found a way to serve churches through his architectural skills. He shared the pain and joy of caring for his wife who suffered with mental illness until her death. He told me of a couple of near-death experiences that included a fall from a bluff and a swim in a river. He had a slight smile on his face as if he knew was destined to be a centenarian.
A few days before Lee died, his caregiver and friend asked him if he needed anything. Lee said, “More time.” Given what I know about Lee, I believe that request meant more than just another twenty-four hours. Lee probably had something more he wanted to do.
We read in the Bible that time is opportunity. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:15-18).
The word “time” in this passage refers to the opportunity that time affords us to do the will of the Lord. The connection between time and the evil nature of the days is important to understand. The evil nature of the days makes it crucial that we use our time intentionally to resist this evil by walking wisely and doing the will of the Lord. We take advantage of this opportunity for good when we are filled with the Spirit and full of wisdom, grace, truth, and courage.
For the Christian, more time should mean another opportunity. Making the best use of the time doesn’t begin with getting a grip on our schedule. It starts with knowing the will of the Lord and making that our purpose. Our schedule then reflects that purpose and our time is used for the opportunity before us.
The final gift a person in Christ gives us in their death is the opportunity to reflect on the grace and calling of God for our life. “More time” will for me always be associated with the desire to take advantage of another opportunity in this life to serve the Lord and people.
Today, we each have time, another opportunity. Let’s make the best use of it.