It was the same group of men, game after game, all of them laboring to nab the attention of the ballplayer as he entered or left the ballpark. They were baseball card fanatics, carrying with them notebooks with the visiting team pictures alphabetized and placed inside protective, plastic sleeves.
"Mr. LaRoche, will you sign this, please?"
How did they know Dave and I would be making this trip to watch our son, Andy, play against their Des Moines team?
I remarked to one of the collectors that I was surprised he had thought to dig in his files for one of my husband's cards, and said he must spend a lot of time preparing for the games -- "just in case." He, an older gentleman, answered that this hobby consumed most of his days.
That same group of men sat in front of us during the games, and I watched them scouting the stands, leaping to their feet, scurrying to get a signature, when they noticed a ballplayer charting pitches for his team. On our drive home from Iowa I remarked to Dave that I found it sad that this was the way these grown men spent their time -- competing to get the most autographs -- when they could be doing something more productive ... possibly even something with eternal rewards.
But maybe I shouldn't have been so quick to point fingers.
In the three days in Des Moines, I had found reason to shop every day. There were those beach towels we've been needing, and comparison shopping meant I had to go to at least four places to get the best possible price. I'd been looking for some black, go-with-everything earrings. Target wasn't that much out of the way now, was it? And how could I possibly go by a half-price greeting card store and not spend at least an hour stocking up? Certainly justifiable since it saved me lots of money. And oh, yes, Dave and I needed new swim goggles -- lucky for us there was a sporting goods store within a mile of our hotel.
Ephesians 5:15,16 warns us: "Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil." I wonder how many of us spend our time foolishly: corresponding with email, Facebook or Twitter; sleeping; watching television; playing video games; listening to music; talking on the phone; SHOPPING; _ (You fill in the blank).
Someone has illustrated time in this way. Suppose every day there was deposited in your bank account the amount of $86,400. The catch? What you don't use during the day, you lose. There is no forwarding balance carried to the next day. What would you do with it? If you're like me, you'd probably go on a spending spree. After all, there are those cute little open-toed leopard-print shoes you've been eyeing, right? And what about that new Harley or that easy chair? So much to buy. So little time.
We are given 86,400 seconds each day. Once the day is up, it's history. You can't save it; it's forever gone. We would never be so foolish as to squander and waste $86,400, so why is it we have no qualms about wasting the majority of our 86,400 seconds allotted to us?
Your personal time spent might not involve trading baseball cards or shopping excessively, but have you ever asked yourself what adjustments you would make if you knew you would have to explain to God what portion of your day had eternal value? If my experience in Des Moines was any indication, I'm afraid I'd have a lot of explaining to do.