The year 2012 is a leap year. We get an “extra” day! What will we do with it? February 29, 2012 falls on a Wednesday, so most of us will likely be going through our normal Wednesday routines: work, school, etc. but anyway you look at it, 2012 will have 366 days in it. How will we treat this bonus day? Every year we have daylight savings. We spring ahead and then we fall back. When we fall back, you always hear people say, “We gain an extra hour of sleep!” but is that really true? How many people say up a little later watching a movie or browsing the internet, knowing that there is an extra hour in the schedule? Bars that normally close at 2 AM suddenly get an extra hour to operate their business, and subsequently, people spend another hour drinking. As a consequence, the day after the Fall changing of the clocks is not often filled with well-rested people. Just to prove that we’re never satisfied, when Spring rolls around and we set the clocks ahead, we lament the loss of that hour of sleep, even though we squandered the hour we had gained a few short months ago.
In Ephesians 5: 15-16. Paul tells us to “make the most of every opportunity”. What does that mean? The Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” is often used – “Seize the day!” The Greeks would say, “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may all die.” Is that what we, as Christians should be doing with our time? Paul warns us to be careful how we live and to make the most of every opportunity. Verses 17 through 20 warn us not to spend our days just having fun and feeding the desires of the body but to be filled with The Spirit, giving thanks to God in everything.
The movie, “Groundhog Day” stars Bill Murray as Pittsburg weatherman, Phil Connors, who comes to Punxsutawney to cover the Groundhog Day ceremonies. He becomes trapped in a never ending cycle of repeating February 2nd every time he wakes up. It’s always the same and he’s the only one who is aware that this is happening. At first, Phil does everything he can to escape. When he realizes that he can’t escape, he spends his time doing things that he wouldn’t normally do – he steals, overeats, drinks heavily, tricks a woman into a one-night stand with him and even goes about trying to end his life. Ultimately, Phil embraces the extra time and decides to spend it on less selfish pursuits. He roams the town every day helping people. He catches a boy who falls from a tree, changes a tire for a group of elderly ladies; he nurses an old homeless man who is sick and dying. He also spends his time getting to know the townsfolk and learning new skills (piano, ice sculpture, etc.). Phil finally seizes the day and makes the most of it, breaking the cycle and freeing him from his never ending Groundhog Day.
That’s all fine and well for a movie, but what about us? How can we make the most of our days? It’s all here, in the bible. You can start by reading it daily. Pray daily. That extra hour at daylight savings? Spend it in prayer rather than sleeping, watching TV, at the bar, etc. Our extra day this year? Find one day in your schedule to help someone who really needs it, to attend a Christian conference, volunteer at a mission or the soup kitchen, attend or even lead a bible study. The opportunities are numerous; we just have to seize them.
In Luke, Chapter 9, verses 57-62, Jesus and the disciples are traveling to Jerusalem and he is talking about his coming sacrifice and attempting to prepare his disciples for what they must endure. The Message relays the story this way:
57On the road someone asked if he could go along. "I'll go with you, wherever," he said. 58Jesus was curt: "Are you ready to rough it? We're not staying in the best inns, you know." Jesus said to another, "Follow me." 59He said, "Certainly, but first excuse me for a couple of days, please. I have to make arrangements for my father's funeral." 60Jesus refused. "First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God's kingdom!" 61Then another said, "I'm ready to follow you, Master, but first excuse me while I get things straightened out at home." 62Jesus said, "No procrastination. No backward looks. You can't put God's kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day."
In the movie, Star Trek: Generations, Captain Piccard says, “Someone once told me that time was a predator that stalked us all our lives. I rather believe that time is a companion who goes with us on the journey and reminds us to cherish every moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we've lived.” How we’ve lived is certainly important – we need to live as citizens of Heaven – heirs to the kingdom and servants of the Living God. As Jesus said, “Announce God’s Kingdom!” Every day we do will certainly be a day that we have seized.