According to the Chicago Tribune, a survey by the Oxford Concise Dictionary has discovered that “time” is the most commonly used noun in the English language. To my great surprise, neither “money,” “power,” nor “sex” showed up in the top 25.
“Man” made the list. So did “woman” and “child.” “Life” was also in the top 25.
“Life would be easier if we only had more time,” said the young woman to her man as she buckled their child into the car seat.
Time is a conceptual noun. You can’t hold it, touch it or accumulate it. There are other such conceptual nouns on the top 25 list: day, week, year, life, thing, problem, fact, place and way.
Among the more concrete nouns to make the list were these: person, world, hand, eye, government and company.
These are the things we talk about every day, the things that fill our emails and telephone conversations.
You’ll notice that love didn’t make the list. Neither did faith, hope, peace or joy.
Laughter didn’t make the list. Neither did music, song or art.
Friend didn’t make the list.
God didn’t make the list.
But perhaps I’m not being fair. Maybe these words were all just beyond the cut-off point. Maybe what we see in this list is what we all know from experience — that life is a brief, frenetic swirl of relationships experienced in the context of work, family and daily challenges.
Time is in short supply and the pressures we all have to deal with rarely let up. Life can seem like a long and meaningless grind.
But there are words just off the chart that suggest otherwise. Words less used, perhaps, but used more often than you might think. There is a loving God. He wants to be known. He has infused life with a vocabulary that reveals meaning, purpose, joy, hope and love.
And this God is in all time, before all time, and beyond all time. Today, when you feel like you’re running out of time, consider Jesus, who stepped into the pages of the calendar to show us the invisible God.
Consider the possibility that time is a highway, or maybe a high-speed rail line, and that it begins and ends with the God who created us, and loves us.
Photo credit: Harold Lloyd in Safety Last