The Woman Who Sold Time

Tuesday, April 27, 2021
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Listen while you read: "Saviour Thy Dying Love"1 (Lyrics)

Romans 13:11-13a – Besides this, you know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we became believers; the night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us live honourably as in the day. (NRSV)

I was fascinated when I heard the story of Ruth Belville. She inherited a family business that had been started by her father in 1836 — selling time! In those days in London, anyone who wanted to know the exact time had few options that were accurate enough to make schedules for trains and other time-sensitive endeavours. For more than forty years, Ruth Belville made the early morning journey from the Royal Observatory where Greenwich Mean Time was accurately kept, to as many as 200 clients around the city, using a pocket chronometer nicknamed "Arnold". Subscribers paid for her services even as clocks became more accurate over the years. She gave up her business in 1940 with the war raging. Her "time" ran out three years later at the age of 89.

Time really is one of our most costly gifts. We can waste it. We can worry over it. We can kill time. We can spend it on ourselves, but we cannot buy or sell it. As good stewards, we can invest it in a life well lived for the love of God and others! "You know what time it is, how it is now the moment for you to wake from sleep." You have time the rest of this day and this week and this year to do the works of light — the tasks that God will give you.

Prayer: Christ, You see who I am. You are familiar with the human condition. I do not want to hide anything in my heart from You. You know that I am sometimes pulled in different directions at the same time, drawn by "the works of darkness", and yet, I know myself to be a child of the light. May I use my time this day to discern and do Your will through You, Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.

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About the author:

Kenn Stright <>
West Petpeswick, Nova Scotia, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Kenn.

    Amen Kenn. Well said.

    Thanks for your ‘timely’ devotion.
    Stay well.

    Another, inspiring devotional, Kenn.
    God bless you as you continue to write for Him!

    Thanks for a fascinating devotional, Ken. Just been told that nobody really knows what ‘Time’ is.

    Thank you for this encouraging email.
    Blessings to you and your family.
    Stay safe.

    Had never heard of this woman who sold time… as you say fascinating. And your words about time are so applicable. Thanks for sharing.

    What an interesting story about Ruth and her ventures. Time is indeed a precious commodity.
    Thanks so much for your thoughts.

    Thank you because today was a hard day. Honestly, it had been a hard season altogether, and your words gave me hope.
    God Bless You!

    Good advice Kenn. Yes, it is important that we take the time to listen to God’s direction and plans for us.
    Thank you for writing this very meaningful devotional.

    I am clicking to encourage you. Thank you for a very timely devotional this morning. It blessed me.
    (N. B.)

    Thank you for your writing. Yes, time is costly in many ways, and what an inventive and faithful worker Ruth Belville. Blessings for and from your work.

    I enjoyed the story about Ruth Bellville. It is so true that we often do not use the time God gives us to do what He calls us to do.
    Thank you for the “timely” reminder to seek God and do His will.

    Good morning Ken,
    Time is indeed a great gift. Today my wife and I celebrate our 65th wedding anniversary. What a great gift the Lord has given us. Three living children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. We are thankful indeed.
    Thank you for writing.

    Hi Kenn
    Thank you for the wonderful observation and a piece of significant history. Blessings,

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