It's About Time
"Redeeming the time for the days
are evil." ~ Ephesians 5:16
Who was the most
written about person in the 19th century? Many would guess Abraham Lincoln,
whose influence extends to this day.
They would, of
course, be wrong. Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, was a luminary
at the beginning of that century, but likewise, to guess
A few who know me
may know the answer to this question, because I have written about this person
and consider his achievements somewhat remarkable, even though we know him best
for the major failure which was a turning point in his career. I speak here of
By the end of the 19th century more than 100,000 books were written about Napoleon, his life, thought and achievements. Considering how little we know about our American presidents, it comes as know surprise that we know hardly anything of some of Europe’s past leaders other than a few important names such as Queen Victoria or Archduke Ferdinand.
Napoleon while reading one of my several books about Ulysses S. Grant. It was in
the preface of the book Grant Wins the War, a volume detailing his victory at
the Battle of Vicksburg, that I learned what a brilliant general Napoleon
was. The author, James R. Arnold,
noted that military historians cited two battles from the Civil War as
significant enough to be termed “brilliant” by the standards of leadership,
strategy and implementation. One of
these was Grant’s
What did he do and
how did he do it? I sought to learn more. After doing a bit of research on the
internet I learned that the best single volume was a 1200 page book by a writer
One thing I learned was that one of Napoleon’s greatest skills was translating theory into action. Indeed, he considered himself a man of action, and one who did not feel it necessary to always be original. He read extensively and borrowed from history.
His attitude toward
planning was interesting.
I find Napoleon’s
attitude toward time to be most instructive. For Napoleon, the loss of time in war was irreparable. He considered
strategy to be the art of making use of time & space. However, "space we can
recover, time never." And my favorite of all Napoleonic quotes: "I may lose a
battle but I shall never lose a minute."
You can always get money to replace lost money or goods.
Lost time is lost forever.
I think this is what
Paul meant when he wrote about redeeming the time, for the days are evil. Children have no concept of the brevity
of life. It is only as we age that
we begin to appreciate what a gift it can be. One day that gift will be all used up,
and we shall not have the chance to re-do it.
As Napoleon once
noted, "All that is to happen is written down. Our hour is marked and we cannot
prolong it a minute longer than fate has predestined." Hence his efforts to
seize hold of each day and make the most of it.
I believe the
Apostle Paul was likewise motivated to make the most of his time on this earthly
sphere. Hence he poured himself out, called himself a debtor to those who knew
not the Lord, and even while in chains continued to write letters, encouraging
and instructing the churches. In
the same way may God grab hold of us, to learn from books, to apply the truths
we learn that Jesus Christ may be glorified in His church.
“…the time is at hand.” ~ Rev 1:3