Thursday, December 13, 2007

Clock Watcher

I have a time management problem--I manage it too thoroughly! In the interest of "not letting a moment go to waste," I always scheduled, down to the last quarter hour, everything from travel time to pleasure reading ("at 100 pages an hour, I'll finish this novel by bedtime"). If I intended to log off my e-mail at 5:00, and an unexpected message kept me on until 5:01, I gave myself a mental spanking.

It seemed to work when I was younger. But then the world began speeding up while I slowed down, and the "this much time you may spend, not one second longer" labels started to turn even pleasure activities into chores to be gotten out of the way. Like Martha, I was so "worried and upset" about the "many things" that "had to" be done that I couldn't hear the Lord inviting me let the doing wait so I could take time for being--being with Him.

Change has not come easily. Even when my body is still, my mind tries to distract me with constant whispers of what I'm missing out on, telling me not to waste my time.... Praying is a waste of time? Even Christians often live as if it were. Sitting at God's feet feels so passive. We should be up accomplishing things. Isn't it up to us to save the world?

Actually, God already did that. When we think we "have to" do everything, that's our pride talking--and we know what goes before a fall (cf. Prov. 16:18). For those of us who never take our eyes off the clock, that fall frequently comes in the form of a collapse into depression, if not a complete breakdown. The only way to avoid that path is to keep our primary focus on God and avoid giving too much of our attention to anything else.

Especially the clock.

Every slot of my day is scheduled,
Every hour of my time is planned.
Work and play time alike are pedaled
To the beat of a schedule grand.
Every moment my brain runs forward;
Every tick of the hand of time,
As the hours of each week march onward,
Draws a glance from my conscious mind.

I've no mind to give full attention
To the task of the moment here,
Always drawn toward the next's rendition,
Ever nagged by a lingering fear
I will never do all I long to,
Never finish life's endless store:
And even the God I belong to
Gets "this prayer time, and nothing more!"

Lord, from You come the interruptions;
Lord, You only know every task
That was meant for my own life's functions,
Yet I rarely take time to ask.
I serve gods labeled Plan and Order,
Brutal tyrants who wield the whip
Should I step out of schedule's border,
Should one minute unnoted slip.

Lord, forgive me my pride so stubborn,
Ever yearning for life's controls.
Set me free from this crushing burden;
Save me from my own self-made goals.
Turn my heart to the Master's pathways:
Make me willing to set aside
Earthly glitter and lures attractive,
Taking You as my One True Guide!

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