Putting God in His Place Part IV
Another way we can put God first in our lives is to get control of our time. I don’t know anyone – at least adults – who say they have enough time. Yet supposedly Americans have more free time then ever before in history. But, we’ve all read the articles where someone has figured out how many years we spend sleeping, how many waiting inline, how many sitting at a traffic light or on hold on the phone.
Time can be spent, but not bought, saved, but not stockpiled, given, but not loaned. It can be remembered, but not reversed. You can waste a lifetime, but you can’t create an extra hour. Time waits for no one and nobody really knows where it goes – it’s just – gone!
We get angry if the car in front of us is going the speed limit, if the person in the grocery line in front of us writes a check – and then heaven forbid why does she have to enter the amount in her ledger here! Take the receipt home and do it where you’re not holding up the line!
We put in more time to earn more money to buy more things that we don’t need that require time to keep in good repair even though we aren’t using them!
Our compulsions with schedules and calendars make time our enemy. Busyness takes a toll on our emotions and spirit. Somehow – we need to make time our friend instead of our enemy.
Pastor Milo Arnold wrote, “Jesus didn’t need longer days nor extended years. He just took the time He had and fitted life into it so that His work was done when His time was gone.” Yet He always had time for people and spent much time alone with God. Jesus is a worthy model of effectiveness of time.
I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way it became a status symbol to be busy. The multi taskers became people for us to emulate. And when that happened a lot of just plain good living was sacrificed.
God gave us Sundays off. Most of us don’t take them. Many of us though will skip the one thing He did tell us to do on Sunday so that we can “get more stuff done.”
We all have more control of our time then we think. Time is ours: only truly significant issues are worth large investments of our time. We need to use our time on purpose.
To get back on track we need to put clocks and calendars back into their rightful place as helpful servants – not uncontrollable slave drivers. We need to ask ourselves – How can I make my life count? How can I make today count? What needs to be done? Who really needs me? Ask yourself what would you do if you only had 6 months to live? What wouldn’t you do?
We can start evaluating every demand on our time by assigning it to 1 of 3 categories: trivial, important or essential.
A 30 minute Bible study everyday requires you to give up something else you would have spent 30 minutes doing. A weekend church retreat requires you to give up 48 hours. If you have a problem deciding what choice to make with your time, Bob Benson, who wrote Disciplines for the Inner Life, once said, “If you will ask God what He would do if it were His life, He would gladly tell you.” We need to live on purpose. We need to really think about what to spend our time on. We need to set priorities.
A dedicated cardiac surgeon will place patient care ahead of a golf game.
An effective teacher will stay after school to help a student rather then go shopping.
A committed critical care nurse is more eager to take care of her patients then fill out insurance forms.
Some executives are voluntarily downshifting to spend more time with their families.
Decide your goals – making sure they fit with God’s goals – and then control your time for those goals.
Throughout history Christians have been drawn to monastery type places to recuperate from shallow living. To renew their spiritual energy. We may not be able to go off and do that, but we can certainly take an hour a day off with just God and ourselves. It gives us strength and balance.
We should also slow down so we don’t miss life’s memorable moments. Savoring such moments – being present in the present. Build a cushion into your schedule even as much as 25% extra for those unexpected moments you don’t want to miss.
Basically refocus your life on what really matters.
Ask yourself at the beginning of the day how many hours you are willing to place in God’s hands for Him to use as He chooses. If life happens in the interruptions like I’ve heard Gloria Gaither say – we can’t be too busy and tied to our schedules for God to interrupt us
In the book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says God gave us 5 purposes:
To become a member of His family
To model His behavior
To magnify His glory
To be a minister of His grace
To be a messenger of His good news
And he suggests that when we stand before God in Heaven, God will ask us 5 questions:
Did you put Jesus in the center of your life?
Did you develop His character?
Did you devote your life to serving others?
Did you communicate His message and fulfill His mission?
Did you love and participate in His family?
Our calling is the same as the rich young ruler’s. Get your priorities straight. Get your loyalties straight. Get your life in order – let go of whatever is holding you back. Accept God. Trust, obey and follow Him. Put Him first in your life and then give Him all you’ve got!