7:00 AM, your alarm goes off. You wake up and rub your eyes for a few seconds before hopping into the shower. Sometimes you are fully awake when that water hits you in the face, sometimes you are not. There’s just enough time from when your alarm goes off to when you sit in your car to get ready, so you don’t have the luxury of messing around. 7:30 AM, you had better be brushing your teeth or at least approaching the sink. 7:45 AM, you are in your car and backing out of the driveway, and hopefully there aren’t any slowdowns in traffic this time or you’ll be late again.
The rest of your day is planned out too. You leave just enough time to complete one task before starting the next, and you’re lucky if you get all of them finished before quitting time rolls around. (Don’t forget the 20 times you check Facebook on breaks or when the boss isn’t looking.) Now you rush home to pick up the kids and/or fix dinner, spend a little time with your family before chasing the little ones off to bed. If you have any energy left at the end of it all, you start an episode of that show you and your wife have been meaning to watch and hope you stay awake for it all this time. The next morning, you start it all over again.
You might notice that there is one important thing missing from this routine: Your time with God. Sure you might have gotten in a ten-minute prayer in the morning or read a chapter or two of your Bible that day (if you were lucky), but there likely wasn’t much of a chance to truly connect with Him in it all. Good thing there’s church on Sunday, right? You get a full hour or two with Him there. Yippee! That is assuming Johnny isn’t throwing up that morning like he was last week.
Now this isn’t the case with everyone, and I’m not saying we aren’t all allowed days like this from time to time. But this is becoming the norm in our lives all too often. American culture has become so rushed that we rarely have the time for introspection, learning, or, most importantly, God. At least as much time as we should be allowing for those things. In most cases when we have ten minutes to spare, we fill it with entertainment mediums or swiping our fingers up the screen of our phones so we can read through all of our friends’ opinions of the latest social issue on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever else we use.
It’s time for us to slow down.
Psalm 46:10 says, “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’” The theme of this verse is echoed throughout Scripture. We are told many times to be patient and wait on Him to act. In our hardships, for justice, and in His teaching. But this is so antithetical to our nature. We want what we want, and we want it now.
I am able to speak to you about this because I am among the worst time-fillers. If I begin to get bored, I am quick to find something to do. My phone is filled with games, books, and ways to connect with others so I’m not left alone with my thoughts. These times of being “bored” and left alone for introspection are immensely important though. It’s in these times that God helps me to mull over what it was I picked up in my morning Scripture reading or think back on an recent event so He can teach me something from it. Or correct me in most cases, which I suspect is one of the chief reasons I resent this time.
But He is working with me on it. I’m learning to put my phone on silent at times and walk around my office building during breaks. Silently. Patiently. A prayerful 10-minute walk has given me more insight at times than a week reading a book. The key is waiting in Him. It doesn’t have to be a walk. It could be sitting alone at lunch, taking the long route home (but not being distracted while you’re driving), or not watching that episode from time to time, but instead praying, listening, and reading your Bible.
We also need to take time to slow down and look at the world around us. When our extra time is filled with things to keep us busy, we miss out on the truly important things in life. Checking our emails at our child’s basketball game can lead to missing plays that are very important to them. Skimming Facebook in lulls on family shopping trips takes our focus from a time that I admit is seemingly-unimportant, but these times add up and our kids notice. Putting on a cartoon so we can get some “me time” works the same way. And when we finally get time alone with our wife, checking the score of the game can wait. Again, a little bit of some of these things is necessary for sanity, but when this is the daily routine, we grow apart from from the ones we love instead of closer to them and wind up wondering where our time has gone. I can tell you. Into a screen!
It’s important to remember that growing takes time and effort. God is always working on you and sharing His love and direction. You have to take the time to hear Him and understand what He is saying and doing for you, though. Stop filling your every moment with something to do. Still moments of prayer and introspection are important for your walk. Take time to listen to what He is saying, see what He is doing in your life, and learn what He is teaching. Your time on Earth will be much more fulfilling if you make sure it aligns with what He wants it to be.
“… for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
This article is being co-released at www.geeksundergrace.com