How often we ask ourselves “where has all the time gone”? How quickly time passes during the day! Of course there is the old adage, “time passes when you are having fun”. How many have asked how can we slow time? Maybe we are asking the wrong question. Perhaps a better way to ask is how can make our time more profitable?
To the worldly this means one thing, but to those seeking first the Kingdom of God, this means something different. To the unbeliever, time is all they have. When this present life ends, so does their hope for they placed all of their hope in this life. To the faithful, we believe that this transient life is fleeting and we prepare ourselves for something greater that transcends time. We do recognize we must use our time here wisely in preparation for those greater things. At times, we give ourselves over to frivolities and even unto foolishness. We must not be deceived however as the evil-one is always lurking in the shadows. It is for this cause that we need to remain ever vigilant. It is at this point that some will ask, “OK Father, I am a very busy person. My day-to-day responsibilities keep me quite busy”. To this we reply that we must finish our tasks and responsibilities appropriately so long as these things do not distract us from God and lead us into temptation. We can work and gives thanks and remain prayerful. This might seem a bit easier when difficulties have overcome us and we find ourselves asking the Lord to help us. The danger lies in the practice of getting caught-up in worldly things and pursuits and losing attentiveness to our heart. There are some practical benefits to attentiveness: remaining attentive helps us to be a better friend, employee, spouse, parent, etc.
How do we get started? St. Paul admonishes the faithful of Ephesus concerning how they should pass their time:
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour…Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks…(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)…See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil…Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians, Ch 5.
Expect nothing and give thanks for everything!
So that we may best understand what the Saint has said, we look to Saint John Chrysostom, who advises further concerning Saint Paul’s words so that we we transform these ideas from word into action:
Have no witticisms, no obscenities, either in word or in deed, and you will quench the flame—let them not even be named,says he,among you,that is, let them not anywhere even make their appearance…For words are the way to acts. Then, that he may not appear a forbidding kind of person and austere, and a destroyer of playfulness, he goes on to add the reason, by saying,which are not befitting,which have nothing to do with us—but rather giving of thanks.What good is there in uttering a witticism? thou only raisest a laugh. Tell me, will the shoemaker ever busy himself about anything which does not belong to or befit his trade? Or will he purchase any tool of that kind? No, never. Because the things we do not need, are nothing to us.
Moral. Let there not be one idle word; for from idle words we fall also into foul words. The present is no season of loose merriment, but of mourning, of tribulation, and lamentation: and do you play the jester? What wrestler on entering the ring neglects the struggle with his adversary, and utters witticisms? The devil stands hard at hand,he is going about roaring1 Peter 5:8 to catch you, he is moving everything, and turning everything against your life, and is scheming to force you from your retreat, he is grinding his teeth and bellowing, he is breathing fire against your salvation; and do you sit uttering witticisms, andtalking folly,and uttering thingswhich are not befitting.Full nobly then will you be able to overcome him! We are in sport, beloved.
We are in sport, we are in the stadium, we are Christians 24/7. Just as the enemy never relents, we must never relent in our vigilance nor lower our guard, for even a moment!
This is how we slow the time, through prayer and watchfulness!