Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Beat The Clock!

Last night, millions stayed up beyond their bedtimes and good sense to experience a great event: a transition from one year to the next. Accompanying the dropping of the giant ball in New York Times Square was the tooting of horns and tossing of confetti. We celebrate the passing of time, but why? For most of us, time is the enemy

My own life is hectic. Anyone who has spent more than half an hour with me can attest to it. But almost all of us--I discount my cats--have lives that are stretched far too thin. There are too many commitments, too many responsibilities, and too much competition for the precious 24 hours we are each given. Time is our enemy and every day we play our own versions of "Beat the Clock". We can hear time, like the alarm clock Captain Hook fed to the crocodile, ticking away.

My question today, on a new day of a new year, is why? Why does time rule our lives and, more importantly, how can we find time for what we really want to do? If time is a social construct, why haven't we as a society learned to master it? More personally, why can't I seem to sit still for more than half an hour without feeling guilty that I am not DOING SOMETHING?

Revelations 1:8 tells it like this:

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, says the Lord. I am the One who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One.

Clearly, God has no problem with time. He just IS. And, as we enter 2014, I have no doubt He will continue to be.

Great. God's not going anywhere. But how does knowing that help me to tutor the 52 students on my roster, teach a full regiment of classes, run a household with a chronically ill husband, and find time to write the Great American Novel?

A few weeks ago, in the midst of holiday preparations, I asked a friend this question: How do I find time to write? My friend did not respond hastily. He took--ahem!--his time.

"Linda," he said, "I often feel you think you should spend all of your time writing, and it is true that God has given you a gift. Maybe, someday, you will be able to write full-time. But don't all the other factors in your life give you things to write about?" He patted my arm. "God will open up windows of time, if you let Him."

It was not the quick fix I wanted. But I put his advice into my head and, as is my custom, began to mull. How could I let God open up windows of time?

The Bible is full of references to time, and time belongs to the Lord. Here's a link to a whole bunch you can read for yourselves:

Obviously, God knows how important time is for each of us humans, although He himself is not overly concerned about it. In Isaiah 5:1, He even says:

But as to suitable times and precise seasons and dates, brethren, you have no necessity for anything being written for you.

Say what? Does this mean I am supposed to throw away my calendar?

Rick Warren, author of A Purpose Drive Life, offers this advice for managing our time: "If you give God your time, He multiplies it." Malachi 3:10 establishes the promise for us.

Bring to the storehouse a full tenth of what you earn. Test me on this, says the Lord-All-powerful. I will open up the windows of heaven for you and pour out the blessings you need. The NIV translates the last part as there will be no room to store it. Now, that's some quantity of time!

Slowly, I began to see the sense of what my friend had told me. God, making no mistakes, had placed me exactly where He wanted me to be. It was my own Walden Pond, my inspiration for writing. The way to find more time was not to be found in any mathematical formula that would make sense; it was to give  more time to God.

A calendar still hangs by my desk and I still wear a watch. I still teach my students to plan out time for study and assignments and expect their papers to be on time. And I still struggle, every morning, to make choices about how to spend my time. But I have found that, as my friend said, God would and does open windows: a snow day here, a canceled appointment there. It all adds up, if not to the weeks of endless writing I aspire to, at least to moments where I can pen my thoughts.

And so, on this new day of a new year, I leave you with a poem about time. I did not write it, but I hope to use it as I continue to struggle with and against time this year. I found the poem at

The Difference
by Anonymous

I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
That I didn't have time to pray.

Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?" I wondered.
He answered, "You didn't ask."

I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on, gray and bleak.
I wondered why God didn't show me.
He said, "You didn't seek."

I tried to come into God's presence'
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you did not knock."

I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
That I had to take time to pray.

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