June 3, 2008

I Don’t Have Time!

Mary Southerland

 

 

Today’s truth

Colossians 4:5 (NRSV) “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time.”

 

Friend to Friend

Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning everything from soccer games and church activities to lunch appointments with friends – from work schedules to family dinners and vacations - but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Being wrapped up in life can easily become a shabby substitute for being wrapped up in Him. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet.

 

Sin thrives in an out-of-control life, a life without godly discipline. Temptation happily dances across overcrowded schedules. Our minutes, hours and days are precious commodities, gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once. We can become so busy meeting the needs of others that we destroy ourselves in the process.

 

I cannot tell you how many women I know who have given themselves away for so long that there is nothing left to give. Marriages fail, children rebel and ministries fall because flawed priorities dictate wrong living.

 

As a mother and wife, a friend and co-worker, we rush headlong through pointless days in an effort to prove ourselves, our worth and very existence. I often hear the flawed thinking, “Mary, it’s true that I am very busy, but I am busy doing good things.” Those words were the cry of my heart, just before I crashed and burned, landing in a pit of clinical depression, a monument to my insecurity.

 

From the bottom of that pit, it was easy to see just how skewed my perspective of time really was. I had poured years into making my plan successful only to discover that God resources and empowers His plan alone. It was painfully obvious that I needed an attitude adjustment, an eternal perspective kindled by godly discipline. I needed to understand that my time is not really mine but a treasure on loan to me from God. He wanted me to understand that He was calling me to work from His love and acceptance – not to it! Every plan, priority and goal must be held against the backdrop of eternity because it is from that backdrop that our priorities are validated, our calling confirmed and our time best invested.

 

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the heck are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?" The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do," He pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop."

 

With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."  Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

 

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. "Thank you and God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

 

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!"

 

Let’s face it. If we don’t set priorities - others will. Time thieves will steal the hours and days as we allow them to impose their plans and demands on us. While it is true that different women have different priorities in different seasons of life, it is also true that one priority remains steadfast. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Once that priority is firmly established, the rest of life will simply fall into place.

 

Godly priorities embrace God’s plan. I am convinced that much of our frustration comes from doing things we were never intended to do. We create the plan as we go instead of resting in the plan He has for us. Discipline guides each step and establishes a basis for obedience and success in ministry. I am, by no means, an expert in the area of discipline, but have made a new commitment to invest my time instead of just spending it.

 

Let’s pray

Father, I am sorry for the time I wasted and spent on things that don’t really matter. Please forgive me and help me to see every minute of every day as an eternal investment. I want my priorities to be Your priorities for my life and I want to guard those priorities through godly discipline. Today, I surrender the minutes and days of my life to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Now it’s your turn

 

  • Keep a written record of how you spend your time this week.
  • Color-code each area. For example, highlight family activities in green, work schedules in red, church activities in yellow, etc.
  • Does this record reflect the priorities you really want for your life?
  • Does this record reflect God’s priorities for your life?
  • What changes do you need to make in your schedule in order to make wise investments of time?
  • Choose one of those changes and begin to implement it today.
  • Pray, asking God to empower that commitment.

 

More from the girls

I have always struggled with choosing right priorities and balancing schedules. How about you? It is so easy to get caught up in just doing “the next thing” and before we realize it, we find ourselves looking back, wondering where the days really went. I encourage you to join me in a new commitment to invest time wisely, in things that really matter, in God’s plan for my life. Let’s pray for each other this week! Be sure to visit my new online store. It has been remodeled and has a fresh, new look as well as new resources and unique gift items.

 

 

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