Monday, January 28, 2008

Time Lost

I'm in a rush right now (what else is new?), so today's entry may go unedited. Which is one reason I chose a poem on "time."

Paul tells us to "Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is" (Eph. 5:15-17, NIV). In other words, don't throw away the time God gives you by spending it on anything besides what He most wants you to be doing.

Easier said than done, I know. Especially since God rarely drops His preferred schedule for each day into our e-mailboxes. Sometimes it seems that, if we are serious about God's will, we have to spend more time seeking it than doing it.

But maybe that's the point. We Americans, with our "always-producing" mindset, tend to forget that God has an even higher priority than our building successful ministries or writing bestselling books. Most of all, He wants a personal relationship with each of us--the kind that can only be achieved by spending time with Him through worship and prayer.

Even basically good things can crowd out God's best. Joanna Weaver's book Having a Mary Spirit gives the author's account of having to cut back on one "favorite thing" to seek God's best:

"I was a binge reader. Which meant one [Christian novel] right after another.... my drug of choice, my escape valve from stress or monotony... So when God asked me to embark on a yearlong fiction fast, I nearly hyperventilated.... I could feel the rationalizations lining up in my heart, eager to present their case before God. At the same time, I could feel grace being released in my heart. Grace to obey. Grace to let go.... [And] God began awakening in me a new hunger for His Word--and I actually had time to partake!... I began walking in a freedom I'd never experienced before.... My fiction fast... lasted a full four years. Not so much because God demanded it, but because I simply didn't desire it. The hunger had been filled by running to His Word rather than running away in my mind" (pp. 190-191, 193).

I'm addicted to reading myself, though my tastes run more toward nonfiction and my problem more toward "cram in all the knowledge you can as fast as you can--life is short." So Weaver's story helped me decide what to give up for Lent this year; I'm going to limit my days-off reading to 200 pages per day. (Believe me, in my case that is a drastic cut!) Will let you know how it works out.

The river of time rushes onward,
And, however our tears may flow,
We cannot make the current run backwards
Or retrieve one drop we let go.

The hands of the clock move forward,
And no tool can reverse their spin,
For life's clock is beyond all our powers
To reset or to wind again.

The progress of strength is downward
Once the prime of our lives is past;
Though our health may remain many seasons,
Yet the end must arrive at last.

But the people of God's own Kingdom
Need not fear to cross death's wide sea,
For we know pains of time will be melted
In the light of Eternity!

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