Where Did The Time Go?

My Life In A Graph.

This image is a graph I threw together to represent my life on earth.  I don’t know how long I will live but for the sake of the graph, I chose 94 years old.  Each block represents a week.  There are 52 blocks wide and 94 blocks down.  The highlighted portion shows the time that I’ve already spent.  The blocks that are not highlighted represent the yet to be lived portion of my life.


I got the idea for this graph, watching Tim Urban give a TEDtalk about procrastination (see link at the bottom).  Tim showed a similar graph for a 90 year old person.

While some might think this is a bit morbid, I think it’s important to measure these things because we as humans, have a tendency to drift and put things off until “Someday”.

Where did the time go?

Have you ever looked back at some important event in your life and suddenly realized how many years had passed since it happened?  Where did the time go?  It may seem like it was only yesterday.  We’re human. If we are not intentional, we will lose track of time.  That’s really what this is about…Time, and how we use it.

In Tim’s speech, he humorously outlines the difference between the brain of a normal person, and the brain of a chronic procrastinator.  While they both looked very similar, the procrastinator’s brain had one difference.  It’s what Tim calls the “Immediate Gratification Monkey”.

People everywhere living with regret.

One of the thoughts that I came away with after watching Tim’s talk was that there are people everywhere living with regret.  Why?  Because regret is usually what comes after procrastination has run it’s course.

Many things that we might procrastinate on are short term & temporary.  A report due to your boss at the end of the month, or a low interest rate on a loan.  These things are tied to time and have a relatively immediate consequence attached to them.  Even if you have to put in extra hours, do extra stuff, or lose sleep to get these done, you’re not likely to totally forget because of the consequences.

There are other things though, that are not tied to time and don’t have an immediate consequence.  It’s these things that cause so much of our regret.  These are the things in the “Someday” slot.  I wrote in a previous post about how I had asked my dad if we would ever go see Elvis Presley live.  My dad said “Someday”.  Just a few years later Elvis passed away.  Someday never came (see link at the bottom).


How many people had big dreams, dreams of traveling to some place they long desired to see, but in the twilight of their lives, they looked back with regret? They never made it happen.  Maybe they had broken relationships that they always intended to fix, or hurt feelings they always intended to forgive…someday.  Suddenly, they realized that it’s too late.  they are too old, their health is failing, or that other person is now gone.

These “Someday” issues often carry a far greater weight of regret.  The problem is that they are not tied to a short term consequence, so we don’t ever get to the point of panic over a deadline.  We will put off something that may be hard or painful to deal with, telling ourselves that we will deal with it eventually.  Eventually is a very nebulous, ethereal word. It’s not concrete.  Eventually is a synonym for Someday.  They both describe a realm where things go to never get done.

Chip & Dan Heath wrote a tremendous book called Decisive.  In chapter 11 they discuss the need for trip-wires.  They tell the story of a woman from Alabama who always wanted to visit Italy.  She had a chance to go once but because of work, she decided to put the trip off.  While she often thought about Italy, time slipped by. After several decades pass, her health deteriorated to the point that she couldn’t go at all.  The Heath brothers ask the question “When did she ‘Choose’ not to visit Italy?  Was it every day? Or never?  She surely never expected that her first decision to postpone the trip, would become a permanent one.”

Deciding by not deciding.

For plans like this, we need to install a trip-wire.  Something that would bring the choice to the forefront of our mind, forcing us to reconsider our plan, make it happen, or discard it.  We have to be intentional about these things because we have a tendency to run on autopilot a lot more than we know.  If this woman from Alabama could have put a time limit on her postponed trip, that said something like “If I haven’t visited Italy by my 38th birthday, I will either make it a high priority, or discard it”.

There are a lot of examples of this.  Has anyone heard of the band Van Halen’s stipulation in their concert rider that a bowl of M&M’s would be placed in the dressing room with all of the brown M&M’s removed?  I remember the first time I heard about that, I thought they were being ridiculous and difficult to work with.  It turns out though, that it was a trip-wire to quickly tell the band that the venue hadn’t fully read or followed the details of the contract.  It automatically put the band and roadies on high alert.  They would need to be extra careful about the staging, power availability & safety.

Moving forward.

It may be because I’m getting older, I don’t know.  I have been thinking a lot about my time.  I want to make sure I’m not just drifting.  I don’t want to let my dreams just float by and not live them because I let Busy get in the way of Important.

Where do you stand?  Is there something important to you, that the busyness of your life has crowded out?  Maybe it’s time to put it on the calendar.


Tim’s TEDtalk

My previous post Someday is never a safe bet.

The Missing Link Between Failure and Success.

When I rededicated my life to the Lord, it wasn’t very long before someone lent me a teaching series.  It was a tremendous series about how we see God.  It was called “The Image of God in You”.  It was a good kick-start for me in my walk with God and it berthed in me a hunger for the Word.  It started to make sense to me and I wanted to know all I could know about this life in Christ.  I was so hungry to hear what that minister was saying that I remember starting the first tape (yes they were cassettes back then) at about 11:00 pm and pulling the last tape out of the player at about 6:30 the next morning.  It was amazing.  If you had asked me just a few weeks before that if I would want to stay up all night listening to someone preach, I would have said “Um…No thank you!”

I became ravenous concerning the Word of God.  I wanted as much as I could get.  I wanted to learn.  I wanted to know more about who I was in Christ.  More about my relationship with my Heavenly Father.  My life in Christ was real to me and I wanted to know how to live it.

The problem that developed for me though, was that with all the consumption going on, there wasn’t very much “Doing”.

James 1:22 says that we are to be doers of the Word of God and not hearers only, deceiving ourselves.  It goes on in in verse 25 to say that the one who is not a forgetful hearer but a doer, shall be blessed in his or her deeds.

This brings to mind the popular bible verse in the John 8:31 & 32 where Jesus said “If you continue in my Word, then are you my disciple in deed, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Understand here that it’s not the plain truth that makes you free.  There are conditions that come with freedom.  Jesus said “If you continue in my Word…”  Staying in the Word is a prerequisite to walking in freedom.

We see in James 1:25 some characteristics of the one that looks into the Perfect Law of Liberty, and continues in it.

  1. They Will Remember – They will not be forgetful hearers.
    Deuteronomy 6 points out how we are to operate concerning this perfect law of liberty.
    -Keep these words, which I say to you this day, deep in your hearts;
    -Teaching them to your children with all care.
    -Talk of them when you are at rest in your house.
    -Talk of them walking by the way.
    -Talk of them when you go to sleep.
    -Talk of them when you get up.
    -Let them be fixed as a sign on your hand.
    -Let them be marked on your brow.
    -Have them lettered on the pillars of your houses.
    -Have them written over the doors of your towns.
  2. They Will Be A Doer – putting it into action.
    We see in James that real faith brings action.  While we are truly justified before God by faith, real faith is always accompanied by corresponding action.  When Abraham put Isaac on the altar in Genesis 22, he was acting in faith.  Hebrews 11:19 tells us that Abraham received Isaac raised from the dead in a figure.  Abraham fully intended to sacrifice the son of promise because he walked by faith, and demonstrated his faith with his actions.  We know that Abraham didn’t have to follow through.  God provided for Himself a sacrifice. This is when Abraham called the place Jehovah Jireh.

This person who makes it a point to be a doer and not just a hearer only will be blessed in their deeds.  That bringing it back around to John 8.  It’s not just the truth that makes you free.  It’s not even the truth you read, or the truth you love.  Scripture says it’s the truth that you KNOW that makes you free, and the inference is that its the truth you know and DO that makes you free.  Your favorite scripture will have absolutely no affect on your life whatsoever… if you will not act on it.

The Truth you know demands action.  Most of us as believers are not defeated by what we don’t know.  We’re defeated by the truth we know but are not doing.

This also comes with a warning.  If you are not a doer of the Word, but you hear a lot of Word, you may be self deceived into thinking that you are more spiritual than you really are.  The self deceived are those that think they are spiritual because they have heard a lot of good teaching.  The sad truth about those who are hearers only is that with each truth they learn, they put themselves “on the hook” to do it.  When they don’t do it, they just increase their disobedience to God.

I want to be fully obedient in everything. I’m sure you do too.  I don’t want to leave anything undone. I have started making a confession as often as I think about it, that I am a doer of the Word of God.

I want to encourage you to examine yourself.  Where do you stand?  I also want to challenge you to put action to your faith. Be a Doer!