"I ran out of time."
"That felt like a waste of time."
"There's just never enough time!"
Our current culture seems to be borderline obsessed with time. Look up "time management" and you will find an endless list of resources from books to articles to Ted Talks and more. Everyone wants to figure out how to manage their time better because if you can make the most of your time, then you will be more productive. And if you're more productive, then you'll be able to get the things done that really matter. And if you get the things done that really matter, then you'll be able to make a difference in the world.
Sounds noble, doesn't it? But are we missing a key factor in all this life-changing potential we think we have when it comes to time? What if it turns out that time is not actually something we can manage in the first place? What if we're thinking about it all wrong?
Before you assume I've gone off the deep end, consider this question: what is one thing you could do right now that would guarantee something about what will happen in the next hour? Just for fun, let's explore a couple possibilities...
1) I could brush my teeth, and that would guarantee my breath will smell fresh from now until my next meal. But what if - let me warn you, this is kind of a gross example - you suddenly become ill, up come those tacos you ate for lunch, and now your breath smells awful?
2) I could write down the things I need at the store and that would guarantee I won't forget what I'm supposed to get for the party we're hosting. But what if you slip and fall in the parking lot, a gust of wind strikes and the list you wrote goes flying through the air, never to be seen again?
You could probably come up with other examples that don't result in sickness or injury, but my point is, no matter how well we think we're using our present time, the one thing we can't do is use it to determine exactly what will happen in the future.
Yes, actions have consequences; I'm not saying what we do now has NO effect on the future. But how often do we think, if I do action a now, I can bring about scenario b in the future? Even if it's just on a subconscious level, we easily fall into the belief that we control the future.
But do we?
I recently listened to the audio book "Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals" and the author (Oliver Burkeman) really challenged the way I think about time. Honestly, there was more in this book than I care to unpack here, but suffice it to say that it exposed how much of my thinking about time has been shaped by the culture around me - one in which time is treated as a very valuable (and manageable) resource.
Now there can be good aspects to caring about time. I'm not sure that choosing to ignore time completely is quite the right approach. But what if we started treating time a little less like a tool that is ours to maneuver or control and a little more like a mysterious element of life that is ours to respond to and even just appreciate for what it is? Here's a crazy idea: What if we thought about time more like the weather?
Weather is something that we can prepare for and to some degree predict, but certainly none of us would ever assume we could make any kind of weather happen. Instead, we pay attention to the forecast, dress and make our plans accordingly and live in the weather we're given.
Like the weather changes and ebbs and flows, time too seems to have a way of shifting and being less controllable than we might like to think. The Bible talks about how our "light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). Perhaps our human minds will never quite comprehend the fullness of what these words mean, but we will keep living within this mysterious reality of time.
Some things will change slowly. Others will change quickly. We'll discover a new way to do something and think that it's "so much better" than the old way. Maybe we'll be really into this one thing... until another thing comes along, and then we're into that new thing... while it lasts.
In all of these changing circumstances, time continues. I remember hearing a phrase from someone on the mission field who talked about the idea of "letting India be India" - as I recall, this had something to do with being open to how God would lead and not trying to force change to happen in a certain way. Maybe along those same lines, we can learn to "let time be time".
Time is a gift, it's a reality and it's a mystery. By God's grace, may we learn to appreciate it, live in it, and let go of our attempts to control it.
Artwork by: Michelle Glick
Pray with me...
... Lord, we praise You because You exist beyond our understanding of time Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145:13
... Father, may all in the ACSD community have the right perspective on time
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2
... God, help us to trust in You moment by moment, even through changing circumstances
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Psalm 62:8
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog and pray for Alliance Christian School District! Lord willing, I plan to publish a new blog post weekly on Wednesdays throughout the school year. Feel free to subscribe (at the bottom of this page) if you'd like to be notified each time a new blog post has been published. We also have a prayer team that is always open for new pray-ers to join. If you'd like to learn more, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Carrie Warner, ACSD Prayer Team Coordinator
Soli Deo Gloria To God alone be the glory