“Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me.”
So says a now fully aware Ebenezer Scrooge to his last visitor, a Grim Reaper apparition who is unmistakably Death himself. Like a masked executioner, Scrooge pleads with him to be quick, and calls his dwindling time “precious.”
Precious isn’t used much nowadays, but a fitting description as the currency slipping through his stingy fingers is the only commodity Death trades in – Time. Do not miss Dickens’ meaning here. This Phantom is taking a life, and specifically, Scrooge is tonight’s main transaction.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is, word for word, the one holiday story you should read before you die. It is brilliantly brief, but do not mistake his lean writing for folly…it is timeless, pregnant with genius, and his reclamation tale takes only two hours to read! What’s two hours?
Here’s a link to it:
So, what exactly is precious…to you? Think hard on that. Decide what is your most precious thing, and then consider how to safeguard it. If you’re honest you’ll see it can only be Time, and like Scrooge you are losing it…right now, this very minute slips away.
And what would God (who is outside of Time) consider precious? He says our faith in Jesus and His dripping blood (1 Peter 1:7 and 19), His promises (2 Peter 1:4), His love (Psalm 36:7), and the death of his godly ones (Psalm 116:15). These all fit hand and glove into Dickens’ choice, and bring to mind two other “precious-conscious” writers.
In Tolkien’s TheLord of the Rings, Gollum calls his magic Ring “Precious,” and its power transforms his desire into deadly lust and corrupts him. Sin changes him into a horrific monster, as it does to all of us. Thankfully, Tolkien’s friend, C.S. Lewis persuaded the doubtful author to publish his Hobbit tale, and then Lewis wrote of another “Precious.”
“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, and civilizations–these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit–immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”
Souls are precious too, and intimately linked to Time and reclamation.
Dickens got it exactly right. Time is precious, and the holidays remind us of that, but Lewis reminds us that only Jesus can help us get more Time, through faith in His precious blood sacrifice you get life eternal. Time is no longer a factor for us in Christ Jesus. And that’s what Ebenezer means in Hebrew, Stone of Help. A reminder that He is your only Help in time of need.
Here’s my favorite film version, a classic!