In an oft-played Christmas favorite, John Lennon and Yoko Ono sing, “So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year older, a new one just begun…” Few Christmas songs share such a direct challenge to personal evaluation, but the question is an appropriate one for the holiday season. I joke with people that as I have grown older, my Christmases have grown closer together. When I was a child, Christmases seemed decades apart; now, they feel like they come every six months!
The truth behind that statement is that time continues to pass (and even accelerate) for me, as it does for all of us. In the year between Christmas 2020 and 2021, 365 days—31,356,000 seconds—will have passed by. It is a good opportunity to pause and ask God to help us evaluate what we have chosen to do with those moments.
For perspective, a 2017 Huffington Post article noted that in an 80 year lifetime, the average person will spend about 26 years sleeping, 13 years working, 11 years looking at screens, 4 ½ years eating, and a bit over a year exercising (no wonder it’s so hard for me to keep my weight under control 😊). The incredible part is that all that time just “goes by” for many of us; yesterday, we were 2 years old, and today we’re 59 (for me—you fill in the blank for yourself), and it is a challenge to recall much of what happened in between.
In the spaces between holiday family celebrations and relationship connections, it might be valuable to set apart a bit of time during the Christmas/New Year break to evaluate our time use, perhaps with a heart to choose more wisely how we might invest whatever remaining time God grants us. As Psalm 90:10,12 put it, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures…teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” A wise person has said, “The next five years will go by anyway,” so best to grab ahold of God’s direction for living them out “on purpose” instead of by accident.
As we share the blessings of Christmas joy and look ahead to the promise of the new year to come, may Ephesians 5:15-17 serve as a spiritually healthy filter for our time investment: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”