College basketball has reached the end of the regular season and March Madness is well underway. Teams are battling to win in hopes of making it to the Sweet Sixteen and then the Final Four. One of the reasons I like basketball is because it is one of the sports that is limited by time. From the beginning to the end, a clock is tracking how much time is left in the game. For fans and players alike, watching the seconds draining from the clock adds to the thrill of the sport.
It has been many years since I played high school basketball, but I can still hear coaches telling our team, “Watch the clock!”
Did you know other parts of a basketball game are timed as well?
When on offense, teams only have 10 seconds to cross the center court line after bringing the ball inbounds. Then they have to watch the shot clock or they will lose possession after 30 seconds. The offense also has to be careful to avoid a lane violation by being in the “key” for more than three seconds.
Life is certainly no game, but if we want to celebrate when it is over, we should be careful to “watch the clock."
All of this makes for a lot of fun for those of us watching the game. Players don’t have the luxury of sitting back like spectators. They must watch the clock if they want to celebrate when the game is over.
Life is certainly no game, but if we want to celebrate when it is over, we should be careful to “watch the clock” as well.
I thought of Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90 that includes these words:
Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (90:12).
Our days are indeed numbered. God has “determined the times set” for each person (Acts 17:26). James reminds us that none of us know how much time God will give us in this brief life.
You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes (Jas. 4:14).
Even the Lord Jesus’ time on earth was limited. At a wedding, Jesus told Mary, “My time has not yet come” (Jn. 2:4b). Later, He had to tell His disciples the same thing (Jn. 7:6).
While we ultimately don’t know when our time to die will come, Jesus did. He was on His Father’s mission and schedule. He knew when the end of His life was near (Mt. 26:18) and He was ready when it came (Jn. 12:23, 17:1; Mk. 14:41).
Jesus came on time, lived on time, and finished His mission on time.
God sent His Son to the earth “when the time had fully come” (Gal. 4:4a), and Jesus only gave up His life (Jn. 10:18) when He completed His mission (Jn. 17:4) and could say, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30).
He came on time, lived on time, and finished His mission on time.
By God’s grace, as we live surrendered to Him, His Spirit will enable us to live on time and finish the work that the Father has given us!
“There’s an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth” (Ecl. 3:1 MSG).
When basketball players get the ball, their opportunity to score is not only limited by the game clock, but also the 30-second shot clock.
Our opportunities to do things that matter are limited as well. We all need time for worship, family, work, and rest. In the same way, as there are seasons to plant and harvest, there are opportune times to do other things as well. If those times are not seized the opportunity will pass.
Paul tells us to make the most of every opportunity (Eph. 5:16).
I was fortunate to play basketball in high school. I wasn’t very good, but height has its advantages. As time went by, before I realized it, I was playing my last game. Our team had made the playoffs during my senior year. We were playing for the championship against a very good team we had beaten earlier in the season. This time we were struggling.
With time ticking away, in the fourth quarter and losing with the game out of reach, our coach replaced me with a younger player to give him experience. And just like that, my high school basketball days ran out of time.
I knew the end... was near, but I just didn’t expect it when it happened.
I knew the end of my playing days was near, but I just didn’t expect it when it happened.
We all know if the Lord delays His return, we will die. We know it is only a matter of time. And before we realize it, time’s up!
We are all running out of time.
Even though we don’t know how much time we have, we should try to make the most of it.
The clock is running. There is no “overtime” in this life.
Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Heb. 9:27).
But here's the Good News! Thankfully, the Lord Jesus died and rose so we may have eternal life. Can you imagine, one day, those who know Christ will be free of clocks and schedules?
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life (1 Jn. 5:11-12).
Eternal, never-ending life, is available to anyone who will turn to Christ and trust Him. You may receive God’s gift of eternal life now.
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (Jn. 1:12).
We need not fear that we are running out of time. As we follow the leadership of the Spirit we have all the time we need to live well and finish the work He has for us.
One day, there will be no more "clock" to watch. When we are at home with Jesus time will be no more and life will never end. Until then, take comfort that with Jesus, we win!