Time. I’ve always felt like it’s there in limitless supply.
Oh, yeah, there are stress-filled days where there don’t seem to be enough minutes in 24 hours to get everything done, but there’s always Tuesday and Wednesday and June 25th 2020, full to the brim with more of life to live.
I buy into the conviction that I need to be responsible for stewarding my time well, but I also live like a perpetually bullet-proof twenty-something.
Over the past nine months John and I have had a friend teach us much about living and dying, about heaven and earth, time and eternity. HIs name is Steve and he is dying of Pancreatic cancer. He and his wife, Sharol, have walked this hard road with authenticity, faith, courage and vulnerability. I asked Steve if I could share some of his thoughts on time in the post today. These reflections come from a place of physical weakness and a greater awareness of limited time.
I wonder some days how God regards my time. I’m sure that just being busy isn’t the right criterion. Yesterday I was taking a little rest and found myself wondering whether resting was the right thing to be doing when I actually felt good enough to do more.
As I have said before, discerning and pursuing God’s “call” for any particular day seems to be an important goal. But discernment isn’t easy. Sometimes giving myself to little things, or simply to periods of thoughtful reflection may be more important than my activist spirit will approve.
Internally I find that I am developing questions to help me in my discernment. They include, for example:
1) Is this activity something where my joy intersects with my perception of what brings joy to God?
2) Am I living into this activity with gratitude for the opportunity given to me?
3) Am I able to receive the time before me as a gift, or does it actually feel like a waste or a burden?
4) Does this activity play into old patterns of procrastination on the one hand or overwork on the other?
5) How does this activity express love–for God, for each other, and for God’s work in the world?
Woven into this whole process of discernment for me must be a clear perception of grace, otherwise all of this fuss does little more than encourage me to worry. If there is no joy in my life, then I am not listening to God’s voice but only to my own perfectionism. I truly believe that “joy is the business of heaven.”
C.S. Lewis made this important point in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (1964). Lewis pointed out that it is far too easy for us to assume that only the very serious things of life are approved by God. But in God’s economy, where so much is upside down, even things that look frivolous, unimportant, wasteful, or playful can be important when they are attached to the joy found in the heart of God’s character.
So the real question about my day is not “how productive was it?” but rather “how much joy did my activity bring, and how much love and gratitude did it express?”
Most of us are so busy that the temptation is probably to skim this and think, “Oh that’s nice.” But I want to challenge myself and you to truly stop and consider Steve’s questions and thank God for His gift of time.
May you live today, every minute of it, with great joy, present to God and others.