How many times have you heard this phrase? I know I’ve said it myself hundreds of times, using my lack of time as a reason or explanation for why I cannot possibly do something. And it’s true that my life is incredibly busy and that oftentimes my heart is racing because of all the things that I have to get done in one day. That’s true of most of us, in fact. But is it accurate to say that I don’t have time?
In fact, I have the same amount of time as everybody else—24 hours in a day. No person here on this earth has a time machine that can alter that reality. Nobody can buy more time, find more time, or purchase extra time at the grocery store. Time is finite, and marches ceaselessly forward. The President of the United States has exactly the same amount of time to spend that we do. So why do we say that we don’t have any time?
If we are honest with ourselves, what we are really saying when we say “sorry, I don’t have time for that” is “sorry, I am prioritizing something else in my life right now." We fill up our moments with tasks which all seem worth prioritizing in the moment, whether they're actually God's Will or not.
I often say “I don’t have time for that” because I am an incredibly busy person, but here are a few things I managed to prioritize in my very busy life today:
-I slept in for an extra fifteen minutes, because sleep took priority over showering when my alarm went off. -I sat and stared at the wall while I drank my coffee, because my need to not talk to anyone just yet took priority over my need to get things done. -I sat on Facebook and worked/socialized for a scattered hour or two throughout the day, because hilarious notes from friends and coworkers grabbed my attention and took priority over whatever else I was doing at the moment. -I supervised my kids while they painted pictures in the dining room, because their need to be creative took priority over my need to clean the kitchen in that moment. -I jumped on a business call during nap time, because the announcement they were making took priority over the other plans I’d had during nap time.
I am a busy person, yet I HAD the time for the priorities that were important to me today. If you had asked me first thing this morning if I could dedicate four hours of my day to sleeping in, staring at the wall, going on Facebook, supervising my kids painting, and listening in on a business call I probably would have looked at the size of my to do list and said “no way; you’re crazy.” And yet, I found the time. But not without sacrifice. Because in prioritizing these things, I let other things go.
"I am prioritizing something else in my life right now."
In truth, we don’t have all the time in the world. We cannot possibly do every single thing we want to do, or every single thing that other people expect of us. We have the time that God has given us on this earth, exactly that, and no more. Our time as Christians is eternal, with an endless forever to spend with God in heaven some day. But our time on this earth is limited. It could end in fifty years, or it could end in five minutes. We don’t know. So how are we spending this time? We can only do so much--are we letting God direct what we do? Or are we filling up our time with the World's temptations and distractions? We only have so much time left to tell other people about Jesus. We only have so much time left to grow spiritually as sinful but redeemed children of God. What are we prioritizing instead of those things?
"I am prioritizing something else in my life right now."
Are we telling people we “don’t have time” for a daily devotion? If we are honest with ourselves, what we mean is “A daily devotion is not something I’m prioritizing in my life right now.” Are we saying we “don’t have time” to share God’s message with others? What we mean is “sharing God’s message isn’t something I’m prioritizing right now.” We can feel a little defensive about this, and resistant to admitting it, but the truth remains: if we truly prioritized our spiritual growth, we would HAVE time for it, just like we have time for our morning coffee, our chat with a coworker, our kid’s soccer game, and that time we spent staring at the living room mentally rearranging it before company came over, among other things that took priority in the moments that we prioritized them.
There is a lot of “busyness” in our lives that is legitimate and necessary God-pleasing work, and then there is a lot of “busyness” that is just noise, filling up our days and distracting us from our ultimate task of spreading God’s Love. Parkinson’s law says that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” We allow worldly tasks that should be kept to a minimum in our lives to expand and take up unnecessary priority space, while other things that should be priorities for us, that we wish we *could* make more of a priority in our lives, stay only in our brains as “should do’s”, where they expand as a concept in our minds to the point where we consider them tasks of monumental effort and time consumption, impossible to ever find enough time for, so why even try? So here we are, wasting two hours on a Friday morning dawdling and daydreaming and taking coffee breaks in between returning messages that probably could have taken half the time to respond to if we were focused, while at the same time we “can’t find the time” to read a 2 minute morning devotion because our minds have inflated that task to the point where it seems an insurmountable time consuming ordeal, and so we make excuses why we cannot fit Jesus into our lives.
Jesus himself told a story about excuses: “Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me." “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’ “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’ “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’ “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” (luke 14:16-23)
The characters in Jesus’ parable all had seemingly valid excuses why they couldn’t attend the great banquet (a metaphor for heaven). They were looking not to God to direct their lives, but rather to prioritize earthly matters over heavenly ones.
Why can't we find the time? Perhaps its because we are relying too much on ourselves to MAKE time. Our sinful selves can always find something more pressing to prioritize than Jesus. Always. We can always find urgent but unnecessary work that needs to be done at any time of the day. So let's stop relying on ourselves to make time, stop making excuses, and start asking Jesus for help. Let's ask Him to help us prioritize His important work in our lives without getting distracted by the shiny objects of the world around us.
Do you dare to ask God to direct your time today? Do you dare to pray this prayer?: “Lord, I am yours. My time is yours. You have leant it to me to carry out your will. Help me to use my time to your glory today. Help me not to prioritize worldly distractions and to list endless excuses for why I cannot do your work, Lord, but to prioritize you and to give YOU the glory for everything that I do. Amen.
Did you enjoy this post? Join us in January, 2016 as we will be kicking off the New Year chatting about practical ways we can maintain God's priorities over our own in the home, at work, and with family!