You see a link to an interesting article and “click.” The page quickly loads, and to your dismay, all you see is line after line of text. It’s 8 point font, Times New Roman, and stretches from edge to edge across your screen. Your interest quickly disappears and you move on to the next exciting headline.
Sometimes we’re like that writer. We fill our days with 8 point text, with little attention to focus, and no room for margin. Each day, we turn the page in the story of our lives and find yet another page jam-packed with activities and to-dos. Our time seems to disappear even before we start our day. We just don’t have time to do everything.
Or do we?
Ironically, time is the world’s only resource that has been distributed equally. Every person, from CEO to field worker, has 24 hours in a given day. You cannot save time in a bank nor can you borrow time in advance. Time cannot be sped up or slowed down. It passes one second at a time, and then it’s gone, never to be used again.
At twenty-six years of age, statistics indicate that I have another fifty-two years to live. That’s comforting, at least right now. However, in another twenty-six years, I’ll be well past my mid-life crisis and will wonder where the time went.
Billy Graham recognized our tendency as young adults to disregard the brevity of time.
“If someone had told me when I was twenty years old that life was very short and would pass – just like that – I wouldn’t have believed it. And if I tell you that, you don’t believe it either. I cannot get young people to understand how brief life is, how quickly it passes.” 
So on one hand, we live as if there were no tomorrow. On the other hand, we live as if we have all of a lifetime before us. This combination steals today of its joys and tomorrow of its effectiveness.
Lately, God has been teaching me some important lessons about time. Yesterday was a prime example. I started out my day with a phone call that cut into my college study time. I was determined to make up for the lost study time later in the day, but that never happened. To my embarrassment I forgot a scheduled appointment, which then caused me to get started at work fifteen minutes late.
On days like yesterday, I need to be reminded that God has given us enough time to do His will. He will never give us a task without providing the resources that we need to complete it. This does not mean that everything will go as we planned. There will be times that we plan our ways and then He redirects our steps. However, we can always be sure of one thing: God has a purpose for our life on earth, and that means he has a purpose for the very minute that we are living right now.
Jesus lived his short life surrounded by endless ministry opportunities. He gave of His time and energy without reserve, from dawn until dusk, but there were always more people, more opportunities, and more needs. Israel was still a needy place when Jesus came to the end of His three-year tenure. However, He could confidently say, “I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4, NKJV).
Jesus didn’t meet every need, but He did finish the will of His Father.
Something else that I am learning is the importance of focus. When we say, “I don’t have enough time,” we are really admitting that we’ve taken a wrong turn. Either we are trying to do something that God has not called us to do, or we are not using our time wisely.
Focus is simply investing our time wisely, and that is only getting harder as the years go by. Google earned 110 billion dollars last year from advertisers willing to pay for our attention. Facebook grew from a small college-based project into a company worth 571 billion dollars after figuring out how to capture large chunks of our time. Telemarketers want our time. Salesmen want our time. It’s a valuable resource, and you and I get to decide how we use it.
No matter what stage of life we are in, there will always be plenty of ways to use our time. That is why we must learn “to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12, NKJV). We must ask ourselves, “What is God calling me to focus on? What are my priorities?”
Perhaps the greatest mindshift for me has been embracing rest. I recently read the book “Reset” by David Murray. All throughout the book, he uses the analogy of a car in a repair bay. Murray points out that we, like cars, must be taken care of in order to run well. We must keep our tank full and our engine oiled. Otherwise, we will not be able to make it from point A to point B.
Our ability (or inability) to rest goes beyond our physical health. It directly affects our relationship with God. Murray puts it well:
“God designed this pattern of six days of work and one day of rest for perfect people in a perfect world. How much more do we need it now in such fallen bodies in such a fallen world? This is a divine gift for our good, as Jesus said: ‘The Sabbath was made for man’ (Mark 2:27). It’s needed now more than ever before, considering that in the last twenty years working hours in the United States have increased 15 percent and leisure has decreased 30 percent.” 
As Anabaptists, we’re known for our strong work ethic. From little on up, we’ve learned to carry our own share of the load, to do the hard things and reap the rewards. Family men work 60-80 hours a week, pastors run their own business while shepherding their congregation, and wives garden, can, homeschool, sew their own clothes, help out on the farm, and raise 5-10 children all at once. But have we learned to rest well?
How about you?
Over the past year, God has been stretching and growing me in my use of time. I have to keep reminding myself that I do have enough time – no, not enough time for every opportunity that comes my way, but enough time to finish the will of my Father. I need to focus on what’s important in life and ask God to show me what’s important to Him. I have to remind myself to rest, both physically and spiritually. That means being like Mary and sitting at Jesus’ feet, even when there are plenty of “to do’s” on my list and a Martha breathing down my back.
How about you? What are some things that you have learned about how you use your time? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
|Ian Miller lives in Harrisburg, PA with his wife Marci, where they are involved in a Spanish church plant. Ian volunteers for a non-profit organization while working on his BA in English through College Plus. He is passionate about urban, cross-cultural church planting, and verbal, personal evangelism.|
- “World Development Indicators – Google Public Data Explorer.” Google Search, Google, http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_.
- Gibson, David. “You Do Not Have Much Time.” Desiring God, 7 July 2018, http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/you-do-not-have-much-time?utm_campaign=Daily%2BEmail.
- Meyers, Peter J. “How Much Does Google Make?” Moz, Moz, 10 Mar. 2018, moz.com/blog/how-much-does-google-make.
- Google Search, Google, http://www.google.com/search?q=NASDAQ%3AFB.
- Murray, David P. Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture. Crossway, 2017.