Here we are again. Another year has passed and a new one is beginning. We’ve all eaten too much over the last few weeks as sweets, goodies, and large meals have peppered our days. Add to this family, friends, football and fun, if your house is anything like ours. There have been moments of chaos, moments of peace, moments of loneliness and moments of hope. And as we embark on a new year, I am always amazed at the passing of time and how it seems to speed up every year. My daughter turns 10 this week and it hardly seems possible that we have already had 10 years together with her. And that is just one of the “landmarks” of time that announces how quickly it passes. As our days fill with things to do, places to go, and people to see, it is easy to lose track of not only all the myriad of things that fill our days, but why we are doing them in the first place. Do you ever feel like Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, when he said, “God put me on earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind I will never die?” There are so many things that request our time and attention, and I would suggest that as we begin a new year, we should begin to look at or at least re-evaluate how we use our time. Because, even though we may feel like the quote I just read, I like this one better: “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” We get to make choices about how we use the time that we do have.
So what does it mean to spend our time in a God-pleasing and fulfilling way? I think that the word that comes to my mind is intentional. Miriam-Webster defines intention as a determination to act in a certain way or a resolve to do something and thus to be intentional is to determine or design to do something in a certain way. Intentionality isn’t haphazard. It isn’t letting things come as they may. Intentionality doesn’t mean completely laid out and planned out ahead of time though. Intentionality may be spontaneous, but it is not reckless. To do something with intention means that you mean to do it. It is not accidental or reactionary. It is proactive. It is action with a purpose.
What would it mean to be very intentional with every minute of every day? That wouldn’t mean no rest or staying busy all the time, but the time you take to rest would be intentional time, not just random, so that the time that you choose to work at whatever it is you are intentional to work at is more efficient. It wouldn’t mean no down time or fun time, but that the down or fun time would be intentional – with a purpose. I read a quote this week that said, “You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it.”
I would suggest to you that you should be intentional in not only what you do, but in how you schedule your time. Our calendars must show what our priorities are. How we schedule our time talks volumes about who we are. Have you ever written time with God into your daily schedule? How about time for your family? And time for rest? If you are anything like me, you have to keep track of all your commitments to other things and other people. How about using it to keep appointments for the really important stuff. Carl Sandburg once said that “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” And this means sometimes we must make hard choices to say no to a good thing in order to say yes to a better thing. The idea here of good, better and best applies. There are things that may be good that we choose to do, things that may be better, and then things that would be the best. None of them may be bad choices, but if we consistently choose only the good, when we could choose the best, then we consistently choose less than optimal.
What if this year as we arrange our schedules, we put real thought and prayer into it and do what pleases God first and see just how much it will please us as we do God’s will? What would that look like for you on a monthly basis? Weekly basis? Daily basis? Hourly basis? How would it affect your relationship with God if you were to schedule Him in every day? How about your relationship with your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends? How would it affect your heart to schedule in works of service that you have always wanted to do but have never gotten around to? How would it affect those around you to see more hope and purpose in your life as you use your time purposefully? How about each time you go add something to your calendar you say to yourself this idea from Henry David Thoreau, “It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, what are we busy about?”
We want to be busy about the Lord’s business, which is the business that He has set us on this earth to do. There is a time for all aspects of our life and it is not for us to choose only what pleases us. But when we do what brings pleasure to our Lord, we will receive the pleasure and joy that He has intended for us from the beginning. Let’s not feel like if we were asked about how we have spent our time, we couldn’t even answer because we didn’t spend it doing anything worthwhile or God-ordained, as one man once said, “There are whole years for which I hope I’ll never be cross-examined, for I could not give and alibi.”
My challenge this year for you and for me is to be more intentional with each moment of our lives. To spend our TIME doing God’s work. To not just go with the flow, but to really consider how we plan our days and plan them with eternity in mind.
Are you up for the challenge?