It was the hottest day of summer during the African campaign of World War II. Two American airmen whose plane had been shot down over the desert walked through the hot sands under the blazing sun until they got back to their own lines. For fifteen days they wandered, with only one canteen of water between them. They kept themselves alive by rationing it, drinking only a thimbleful at a time, squeezing every drop of life out of the canteen.
On the same afternoon in a town in America it was also very hot. Some children ran in to their father and shouted, “Daddy, turn the hose on us.” They ran around the lawn in bathing suits while their father played the hose on them. All afternoon they squealed and laughed in the cool water.
For the two soldiers in the desert water was a matter of life and death. For the children it was something to play with. Time is like that too. Some people use it and get the most out of it. For others it is just something to play with.
If there is something you must do, you can settle the problem by saying to yourself, “I’ll begin it now.” Once you have begun, the rest is not too hard. If we are doing nothing, it is human nature to keep on doing nothing.
But once we have begun something we like to finish it. You say to yourself on Friday night, “Shall I do my homework tonight or let it slide until Sunday night?”
Do it now. “Will I study hard this term or wait until next term?” Do it now. “Will I make my Easter Duty in Lent or wait until the Saturday before Trinity Sunday?” Do it now. “Will I neglect my music practice all week and then make up for it by extra practice on Saturday afternoon?” Do it now.
You will find as you grow older that the people who have the most to do are the people who get the most done. Great people can do so much because they have learned that time is valuable. They know that procrastination (which is a big word that means “putting things off until tomorrow”) is the thief of time, and they do as much as they can today. Children think that they have lots of time. They forget that twenty years, just like twenty dollars, can be spent very quickly. Each day walks silently into our lives bringing with it the precious gift of time. If we do not use it, then the gift is taken just as silently away. One of these gifts will be our last. We say in the Hail Mary; “Now and at the hour of our death.” We forget that there will come a time when “now” is “the hour of our death.” Then time will be tremendously important.
Queen Elizabeth on her deathbed said, “I would give my kingdom for a moment more of time.” Do we make the most of time, as the soldiers in the desert make the most of their water supply? Or do we use it like the children on the lawn used the town water supply—as something to play with? Use time well while you can.
~ “Heirs of the Kingdom,” Imprimatur 1949 ~