Passions, Preferences, & Priorities

Writing has been a passion of mine for most of my life. Whether I am blogging or crafting an email communication at work, I get joy and satisfaction from finding the right words to convey my message. I have been blogging for just over two years, and this weekly discipline of writing and editing has become part of the routine of life. But at times I am restless and even anxious. I have devoted much of my “free” time to writing because I feel that God wants me to use this gift that He has given me. But should I really treat blogging as something that God wants me to do? Or is blogging just a self-imposed obligation? When it comes to my priorities for how I spend my time, I have to ask myself where God’s place is. I know that God should be first priority, not an extra that I try to squeeze into my schedule.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil.

Ephesians 5:15-16

Last weekend was the end of a week-long vacation from work. I had intended to blog, and had even begun writing, but eventually decided to let it go. Honestly, I felt lazy. On Saturday, my typical blogging day, I found myself watching TV in between putting coats of stain on a table I was refinishing. In the pit of my stomach, I felt guilty, like I was shirking work. It was just the beginning. I spent the week feeling like I was in slow motion, trudging through a swamp. I struggled to keep up with what I needed to get done. I don’t know whether or not it was connected to Saturday’s internal crisis of priorities, but my mind stayed on that topic. Ephesians 5:16 was echoing around in my head, reminding me to “[make] the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

As I contemplated my priorities, I became increasingly frustrated at my inability to find time to pull weeds in the backyard, which the El Niño winter turned into a meadow. Yet I am sure there are actually more important things for me to do than work in the backyard. In the mornings, I give some time to God, though it is often limited by the snooze button. My priorities to sleep, eat, exercise, and keep house seem to keep my schedule full. My next priority after that is blogging. Increasingly, I miss the hobbies that blogging has put on the back-burner. It causes me to question why I am doing this. I suppose it is simply because I am a writer. It is a passion, not a hobby. It has become important not only because it is something that I want to do, but because I think God wants me to do it, too.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24

I suppose when it comes down to figuring out what I should be doing, it isn’t nuclear physics. It’s a straight-forward matter of listening to my conscience. As a Christian, my conscience is the Holy Spirit within me. I know well that nothing will weigh me down more than trying to go against the Spirit. For some reason, our human tendency is to be stubborn about issues in our lives that the Spirit convicts us about. Yet there is so much emptiness when we follow our own path. The things that we think will make us happy are actually hollow. But what joy we find when we walk with God, following His lead. Most of the time, we can feel whether we are doing what we ought to be. In the day-to-day decisions of how we behave and how we spend our time, we feel the pangs of conscience that are like the Holy Spirit nudging us in the ribs. I feel it when I spend too much time watching TV on the weekends. I feel it when I speak out of turn or refuse to take an opening that God has given me to show love to those around me.

God has worked on me a lot over the past several years. I have learned the joy of being in His will. Being on the right track is as palpable as the nudging when I am on the wrong one. Perhaps my recent restlessness is a reminder that He is still at work. I know that I can do better with my time because I remember how much I accomplished last fall when so many things converged on my schedule.  Now, settled in a new home, I am too content in my routine and the status quo of life. The Christian life isn’t about a single change, it is about a life of continuous transformation. I believe that if I learn these lessons of better stewarding time, God will bless in the same way that He blesses good stewardship with money. If I commit my time to God, I will be happier, and He will help me to find time for Sabbath and hobbies.  I don’t think God wants me to have a garden of weeds, but I need to trust Him to guide my time and priorities. This means putting Him first, even ahead of sleep. To start, I need to stop hitting snooze!

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