Warning: This post, using Steph’s term, is “brutal.” I do not apologize for that. That was the call God gave me years ago for this blog: To be challenging. To be confrontational. Christians can become very complacent in their walk with God, and that contentment is a faith-killer. I should know, and that’s what all readers need to understand—these posts are not me preaching to you, they are God preaching to us…and that was never more apparent (to me) than this week.
Just the word causes knots in your neck and shoulders, doesn’t it? Time is the great burden of our world. “If I only had more time…” “If there were only more hours in the day…”
I believe that God blesses us all with certain gifts, and we are to use those gifts to best glorify Him. I have a gift with words—specifically the written word. Until recently, I talked a good game, but I put forth very little action when it came to serving God. I was a sleeping Christian. Almost two months ago, I woke up. Big time. In my thirty-three years on this planet, I don’t think I’ve ever felt more electrified. I said to God—I’m ready to go to work, what would You have me do?
God answered with a test: Okay…you want to serve? Start here—talk to fifty teenagers about your faith. When that was finished, I asked, “What’s next?” God responded: It’s time to start that blog I wanted you to do years ago. And so it began.
Each week, I pray for guidance on a topic. When that is clear, I pray for the words. Then I sit down and deliver His message. I’m no biblical scholar. I read Joe’s blog daily, and many times his post flies over my head. That’s okay…while I’m on the same path as him, we’re at different locations. If Joe’s the varsity, I’m the jayvee. My target audience isn’t the same as Joe’s. Right now, I am sending God’s message to those who are just getting to know Him…those on the fence…those who, like me, just woke up (or are needing to wake up). Every week, I am in awe of His message and thank Him for trusting me with it.
I am jacked up every time I finalize a post. I check back frequently—whether here or on Facebook—wanting to see what people are saying…how they’re responding…how God’s word is moving in their lives. Yet in the brief duration of this blog, what is the number one comment I’ve received? “It’s really long” (or some variation of that statement).
I’ll be honest—that annoys me. In my head, I translate “It’s really long” to: Well…I want Jesus in my life, but only if it doesn’t take up too much of my time. This past week, I had had enough. I was fired up. I wanted to hop on here and write this post and call everyone out. I wanted to scold. I wanted to lecture. I wanted to stomp my foot and throw a tantrum. I, I, I.
Last night, as I prayed for peace on this issue, God responded with two words. They were the only words He needed:
We live in an ADD world. Everything is centered around time. Walking into McDonald’s was too much…we needed drive-through. Carry-out was too much…we needed delivery. (*And to combine those two, in some locations, Burger King now does delivery.*) Dial-up drove us insane, so we switched to broadband. Snail mail became email became IM became Facebook became Twitter. Rotary dial became push button became cordless became cell phones became texting. “You” became “u.” Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie became Brangelina.
At my old church, the previous pastor had a saying whenever his lesson would go long. He came up with it during football season. He called it “Overtime.” There were a couple of occasions when he was reaching “Overtime” that he mentioned (light-heartedly) how the elders of the church had had multiple discussions with him about doing a better job of keeping to the clock. You hear this and think, “Man…what are we talking about here? Two hour services? Three?”
Folks, we would sing a song, greet each other, someone would do announcements, we’d pray, sing three more songs, pray, take the offering, pray, the pastor would give his message, pray, and sing one more song…in one hour, fifteen minutes. If the pastor’s message—God’s message—ran five or ten minutes long, the elders (and members of the congregation) would start tapping their watches. Apparently there’s a time limit for God…and that limit is 75 minutes.
We are rarely as selfish in our lives as we are with our time.
I wanted to get in people’s faces with this message, but God would have none of it. Instead, He called me out…and He was right to do so. I am such a hypocrite. I’m the worst at all of this. I am obsessed with time. I look at the clock a hundred times a day. When those church services were over, I didn’t stick around to visit with people. I bolted for the door. Why? Football was about to start and I had to make sure my Fantasy team was ready to go.
I hate…no, that’s not strong enough…I super-mega-loathe shopping with Steph. It’s not that I hate spending time with her, it’s just that shopping takes so long. I don’t want to shop with Steph…so she either doesn’t go or goes without me. Instead of being with her, what do I do with all that time I’ve saved? Usually…watch some sporting event on TV. Last week, I had Monday off of school. A friend asked if I wanted to hang out. I said no because I wanted to get a jump start on grading essays. While that was truthful, I ended up not grading nearly as much as I could have because I got caught up in a Band of Brothers marathon on TV.
Three examples, all resulting in me passing on the chance to spend quality time with fellow Christians, friends, or even my wife in favor of the false god television. I tell my students that I hate wasted time, yet in my personal life, I am the king of it.
…and then I’m annoyed when others can’t or won’t give me their time.
Time is precious. There is no questioning that. But maybe it’s time for us to question how exactly we spend it. Is every moment of the day being used productively? Watching TV is fine…as long as it doesn’t become the master of your time. Facebook…games…those are fine…as long as they don’t become the masters of your time.
How are you spending your time? Could your time be better spent? Has TV or the computer become your true church? I’m going to keep track of every minute of this coming week so I can see where my time goes. I am not going to change anything that I currently do because I want a true assessment. This week will be a little skewed because I will not have any essays to grade, but it will still give me a good indication of how I spend my time. For full disclosure, I will report my results in a comment to this post in one week. I challenge you to do the same. You can post them if you want, or just look at them yourself so you know where your time is being spent.
Most of you—maybe all of you—won’t do this. Why? It’s time-consuming, which means it’s annoying. I’m right there with you. I don’t want to do this. Honestly—I think this idea is God’s way of punishing me for wanting to point out the splinter in your eye without dealing with the plank in mine…and that’s okay because it’s a challenge. How can I grow without challenges?
God wants my time, and I need to do a better job giving it to Him. However…He’s willing to wait. He wants your time, and you need to do a better job giving it to Him. However…He’s willing to wait. Why? Because He loves us. In the famous 1 Corinthians 13:4 scripture, how is love defined first? “Love is patient.”
Why is God entrusting these long messages to me? Because He knows I’m patient enough to write them. I love all of you. I want you to hear His message…all of it…and I will be patient for that to happen. God’s love and grace humbled me into that realization. His love and grace also provided you with my shortest post yet. You now have more time this evening than normal.
What are you going to do with it?