God established the day and the night and placed the sun and moon in the sky to help us mark off this thing we call “time”. God gave the Israelites the Sabbath to mark off a week’s time and annual Feasts to help them regularly remember His miracles and sovereignty. God set time in motion…so why do we often feel like we are in a battle with time?
Out of sheer curiosity, I looked up the Greek “god”, Kronos. I was amazed at the brief description given: “the Titan god of time and the ages, especially time where regarded as destructive and all-devouring.”
That’s it! Time so often feels all-devouring and destructive…never enough of it to handle everything on our plates. (Check out the first post in this series: Picking My Priorities to see how we often pick up what God never meant for us.)
In a psalm of Moses, he says, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Ps. 90:12) As of today, I have about 18,150 days until I’m 80 years old. Now, the women in my family have a tendency to live long lives well into their 90’s, and I’m not at all trying to predict when my time to pass through death’s door will occur…it may be tomorrow…it may be when I’m 108…there’s no way for me to know. But even just putting the number of potential time remaining for me into days gives me a fresh perspective. When today is over, a day ticks away. What did I do with today?
“Today” easily gets swept away in the tyranny of the urgent: the bill that MUST be paid today, the phone ringing that I just can’t stand to ignore, the onslaught of emails and Facebook updates I feel obligated to handle immediately…and so on.
But, gradually, I’m learning the lesson of choosing the great over the good. Of course there are things that are just the stuff of life we have to deal with. But in dealing with those things, we need to set up boundaries to keep those things from spilling over onto the time the great things require.
This is where it helps immensely to be tuned into God’s voice, sensitive to His leading and calling on your life! For example, if I know that in this season of my life, that homeschooling my kiddos and writing are His priorities for me, then I can be at peace in saying no to some good offers that come my way. I would absolutely love to volunteer here or there, but I know that even though I may have a desire to work on that good thing, it would steal time from the great things!
How are your great versus good things determined? What do you tend to choose? What are time-devourers for you?
The good news for me is that my God is the true God of time. We do not have to bow down to Kronos, to the tyrannical urgent! God is a Giver and not a destructive devourer. He gives me exactly what I need in time and resources to accomplish those great things He has set in my path, in His timing.
You might call me a “time-keeper” if you saw me everyday. I constantly check the clock and make daily use of my planner and wall calendar. For some reason time bears a great weight on me. I hate being late for anything and easily get irritated when someone else arrives after the appointed time.
And yet, a few years ago I started to realize that this time-obsession was getting out of hand. I chose to stop wearing watch, quite purposefully. I’ve cut back drastically on how much I put in my planner, though it still gets regular use.
I came across something that struck this time-keeper in the gut:
“It is vanity to wish for long life and to care little about a well-spent life.”
Thomas a Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ
Am I spending this life well when I get all tense and annoyed? Am I spending more time planning for the next day’s events rather than living fully present in this day?
The longer I live, the faster time seems to move along. In elementary school it took FOREVER for Christmas to arrive! Now, it feels like we just celebrated Christmas and it’s already September!
Yes, many days can seem long in the trenches of busy-ness that comes with raising my now-preschoolers. But I look back and genuinely wonder where the last month went! It was swept away with the day-to-day activities…with the laundry and groceries and cooking and bills and routines…the days gather together and race past me.
And the more I consider my bent towards living in the “next” rather than in the “now”, I can better see that this leaves me living each day in survival mode as I plan for a better “next”.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
My prayer today is this: that God will help me realize how fleeting is my life, how precious is every moment so that I can better see His work around me and hear His voice speaking. I hope that in “numbering my days” I will place greater emphasis on the important things rather than merely the urgent things. I long to leave behind a legacy of a well-spent life that was invested in knowing, loving, and serving God and others.
What does living a well-spent life look like to you?