J.R.R. Tolkien's classic adventure tale, The Hobbit, contains a scene in which Bilbo Baggins, the main character, gets lost in a dark cave and finally becomes involved in a riddle contest with a mysterious, scary creature called Gollum. According to a deal the two have made, if Bilbo is unable to guess Gollum's riddle, Gollum gets to eat him. The hero has already guessed several of Gollum's riddles, but is faced with one he cannot puzzle out:
This thing all things devours;
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.
When Bilbo cannot give the solution, he hears Gollum coming for him in the darkness. Tolkien continues:
[Bilbo] began to get frightened, and that is bad for thinking. Gollum began to get out
of his boat. He flapped into the water and paddled to the bank; Bilbo could see his eyes
coming towards him. His tongue seemed to stick in his mouth; he wanted to shout out:
"Give me more time! Give me time!" But all that came out with a sudden squeal was:
Bilbo was saved by pure luck. For that of course was the answer.
I cannot tell you how often I feel like poor little Bilbo, desperate for time before some monster--work, over-commitment, even fun-- gobbles up all my energy and resources. I feel like shouting, "Give me more time! Give me time!" These days whenever anyone asks my prayer concerns, I request prayer for wisdom in using my time well. As I get older, I consider more carefully how I want to spend precious hours and minutes of my remaining time in this life.
I know we who trust in Christ are promised eternity, but that idea is quite beyond my comprehension. Days and hours, however, I do understand, and I want to use them in such a way as I will not regret. I am reminded of Psalm 90:12. "So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
Before time devours my opportunities and beats down my strength, I want to do the work God has given me. The calendar is a construct of man, but here near the start of new year is a good time to take stock and make some plans.