They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t think that is theologically sound, but I do understand the truth that we as humans tend not to follow through on our intentions. I know that I am walking the path to eternal life in heaven, yet I find myself frustrated with all that I am leaving undone in my life. It isn’t big, grand things that I am not doing, but rather little things that are nonetheless meaningful. Lately, the days seem to be a blur as they go by, and I don’t know where my time is going, except that I have been spending more of it at work. Of course, my job and sleep are the top two uses of time in my life. The hours in between seem quickly filled by the necessary tasks of life like preparing meals and eating, cleaning, laundry, and exercise.
So it happens that there are things that I think about doing every day, but never seem to get done. I want to write my nephew a letter of encouragement, and I want to send my sponsor children letters with some stickers in them. There are pictures sitting around that I have been wanting to put up on the wall. There are ministry opportunities that I have been meaning to look into. But all of these things get lost between grocery shopping and trying to keep the backyard from becoming a jungle, again. This past week, I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to resolve a problem with the Bluetooth settings between my car and my iPhone. It seemed important when I was spending the time on it, but in hindsight, it isn’t really. People survived for decades without having phones that they could use in the car. I’m feeling that lost time, now, and it is making me impatient.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
The Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s, my pastor preached to us from Ephesians 5 and challenged us to make the most of 2020. His first point from the text was to make the most of the time we have. It resonated with me. The struggle with priorities and time really comes down to figuring out how to live as God would have me to. I know that God wants me to invest in people and relationships, and this does not come naturally or easily for me. There is a reason that the Scriptures instruct that love is the most important virtue and greatest command for the believer (1 Cor. 13, 1 John 4). We are called to demonstrate God’s love to others. Some of this can be done in the course of everyday life and work. But there is much more that requires me to set aside time and to dedicate my attention to the needs of someone else.
Not too long ago, I had to figure out how to tighten up my time budget so that I could prepare for both a professional exam and a move that were happening the same week. I think the more I work on time management, the more ambitious I become. I am more concerned than ever about following through, even on the little things. I want to be more intentional when it comes to giving time to the people in my life. I do fairly well at following through on things for my sponsor children, but what about my nephews, who have always been so dear to me? One is writing a novel, and I never seem to find the time to read it. I know better than anyone how much it hurts when people say they will read your writing, and then don’t follow through. And my sister has projects that she wants my help with, yet each weekend those always come second to finishing my blog.
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
Psalms 90:12, 14-15
I want to figure out how to capture the bits of time that I am wasting. Extra time is there, somewhere, in between other things I am doing. Even when I have to-do lists, and I love a list almost as much as I love crossing things off from it, there are always items that get prioritized last, and never seem to get done. I settle for completing eighty or ninety percent of my list because I run out of time in the day. Those things which are most necessary to my own life and comfort get done first. I don’t mean leisure activities, but the daily maintenance of my first-world lifestyle. Something needs to give in my schedule so that I can do the many things that I want to do, not just for myself, but for others. I think I need to change my priorities.
I suspect that I sound like a broken record, but I feel strongly that if I am not growing, I will be regressing. And I don’t want to settle for whatever I perceive to be the average Christian life. I want to be an extraordinary servant of God; I don’t want to hold back anything that I have to give. I don’t want to let the Devil lull me into a lukewarm slumber of complacency. So I am going to push myself to manage my time a little better. I am going to identify where time is wasted so that I can reclaim it “because the days are evil.”