I’ve been thinking about an excerpt from Charles Hummel’s Tyranny of the Urgent that Chato read at the beginning of Weekly Manna this past week.
We all lead very busy lives, making it easy for us to say, with respect to one thing or another, “I don’t have time for that.” The truth, however, is that there is always time; we always time for the things to which we ascribe importance.
Hummel makes this point in the excerpt Chato read, saying that when we say we have no time for something, what we are really saying is that the something in question is not a priority. What we are saying is that we choose to spend our time on something else. Hummel observes, “our dilemma goes deeper than shortage of time; it is basically a problem of priorities. We confess, we have left undone those things that ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”
Hummel goes on to say that there is no single set of correct priorities for Christians. Rather, we need to be intentional about what we are spending our time doing, intentional about using our time as best we can in our discipleship.
“I’m too busy,” or “I have no time,” is really a way of letting ourselves off the hook. (“I would do x if only I had the time.”) It lets us get away with failing to prioritize.
So be honest: instead of saying “I have no time,” admit: “It’s not a priority.” The honesty might have an affect on what you devote your time to.
In today’s Gospel from St. Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples to “Stay awake! For you do not know on which day your Lord will come. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour of night when the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and not let his house be broken into. So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”
This is one of those messages that is easy to understand intellectually, but much harder to internalize. We know (in our head) that we can die at any moment. We know (in our head) that the world could end at any moment.
Yet we live as though we have all time in the world. We make our long-term plans confident that we will see them through. We put off til tomorrow things we can (and probably should) do today. We act as thought there will be time enough for everything.
Jesus’ reminder is a sobering one, and one we need to embrace more deeply. We have no guarantee about how long we will have. We know neither the day nor the hour when our time here will end.
Shouldn’t that make us more careful about how we live our lives?
Just a short thought for today. Something for you to ponder. A couple of good questions to ask yourself.
Did you know that there are 1,440 minutes in a day? It’s true. I did the math. Did you also know that 1 percent of all that time is fourteen minutes and twenty-four seconds? What would happen if you made a conscious decision, every day, to exercise your soul by giving roughly fifteen minutes of your time over to God? Just 1 tiny percent of your life. Would your life change?
The person who wrote this – Gary Jansen in a book called Exercising Your Soul – did exactly that decided he could commit that small piece of his life to God. And, his experience was that it changed everything.
People tell me all of the time that they just can’t find time to pray. That their days are too hectic to be able to take time away from all of the things they have to do to sit quietly with God.
But when you look at the numbers it becomes harder to persuasively argue there is no time for God. Is is really the case that you can’t afford 1 percent of your time? Can you really not take 14 or 15 minutes of the day from your other activities and give it to God?
It could change everything. Why not find out?