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Redeeming the Time

I have written before of how I enjoy the obituaries of famous people.

Last weekend I read the fascinating obituary of Sir Michael Peckham, who recently died aged 86. Sir Michael was a pioneering surgeon who developed revolutionary new refined forms of chemotherapy that, being less like a blunt instrument, helped to prolong the lives of cancer patients. One of the most famous recipients was the Grand National Jockey Bob Champion, who made an astonishing recovery from testicular cancer as a result of the treatment and went on to ride his horse, Aldaniti, to victory in the 1981 Grand National.

Sir Michael obviously had a good work ethic. It is said that he seemed to have more hours at his disposal that many other people. Of course, we know that everybody has exactly the same number of hours in a day, but some people seem to make better use of their time. Sir Michael packed a huge amount into his life as a surgeon and an artist.

What was his secret?

The obituary suggests it was down to what he called “salvagism”. This was the idea that he was able to salvage the potential of every spare moment. An example of this was a piece of art he produced: a collage of complimentary mini-chocolate bars that he had collected at hotels on his travels to medical conferences.

It made me wonder what preachers could learn from this innovative approach to time. We have all heard the phrase: “Don’t count time but make time count”.

I remember our children watching a TV programme with the provocative title: ‘Why Don’t You Just switch Off Your Television Set and Go and Do Something Less Boring Instead?’

The Apostle Paul talks about the attitude that shapes a different approach to time:

“Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15–16).

The King James Version speaks of “redeeming the time”, which my New Testament professor said was like theological students snapping up bargains in the bookshop!

Time is short. We have all had those experiences which lead us to complain: “I will never get that time back again”.

If you could get that time back again, what would you do with it?

We would do well to ponder that as we approach our working day. What do you do when you are presented with 10 or 15 minutes between some of a day’s tasks?

15 minutes of reading squeezed between other tasks can result in up to ten books being read in a year. We have all heard it said: “I don’t have the time to read!”

That is generally not true, is it? What we often mean is: “I have not made time to read”.

I guess that we all have the choice between wasting time and using time.

Yet it is also important to remember that sometimes our best use of time might be a brisk walk to enjoy some fresh air, time with a friend or a short nap.

Time management is not primarily about efficiency, it is about finding a balance in time that creates spaces to reclaim an odd moment with fruitful activity or a needed break.

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