Sunday, May 10, 2009

What Matters Most?

Lately, I’ve been trying to find time for exercise, personal time for me, and time for a consistent quiet time, but for that to happen, I have to give up something, and with three small children plus a paying job I do from home in every spare moment, I’m not sure what I can cut. I’ve already cut out all TV except for (literally) 4 ½ hours per week. I only get an average of five hours of sleep per night. I already feel guilty enough with what little time I spend solely focused on my children and husband, so I can’t cut anymore there. But what about my job, the “overtime” I do?

My issue is one many women and men face: juggling a career, family life, and spiritual life. And the problem in our society is that our jobs, our careers, are winning out, sucking up all our time, and drawing us further away from God. A grass-roots movement entitled “Take Back Your Time” seeks government mandated vacation for all. Their statistics are interesting:

--Americans are working more than those in the 1950s, more than medieval peasants, and more than the citizens of any other industrial country.
--“Mandatory overtime is at near record levels, in spite of a recession.”
--“On average, we work nearly nine full weeks (350 hours) LONGER per year than our peers in Western Europe do.”
-- “Working Americans average a little over two weeks of vacation per year, while Europeans average five to six weeks.”

In essence, we’re spending more and more time at work. The result? Among other things, we have less time for developing solid marriages, training up our children in the Lord, maintaining relationships with our extended families, or being a good witness to even our neighbors.

Worst of all, we leave out God. Do we feel guilty? I think many Christians do. But, I think many Christians also try to argue with God and with the Holy Spirit within them, rationalizing that they just really didn’t have time for prayer or Bible reading or Wednesday night service this week, that they would have given God their best if they could have found a spare moment.

God knew of man’s propensity for busyness. Psalm 46:10 admonishes us to “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10, NASB) or, as the King James says, “Be still.” But, how often are you still? I’m not talking about stuck in rush hour traffic or plopped in front of a TV. How often does silence and stillness surround you, when nothing or no one else is begging for your attention? My guess is that’s as rare in your life as it is in mine.

But no matter how long it’s been since you could hear yourself breathe in the silence, you and I both need to stop if we are to hear God speak to us, and that means putting God first before anything, including our careers. Have you ever considered that He may be speaking to you each and every day, but if you are always on-the-go, you may not be able to hear Him?

Look at Elijah’s experience hearing God: “And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice” (1 Kings 19:11-12). While God can speak to us via foghorn, here, God was speaking in a “still small voice.” If God had been speaking to you this way, would you have missed Him in all the noise?

Where does God fit into your work-day? Do you regularly take work home with you? Go in earlier and stay later in an attempt to “get ahead”? Accept overtime constantly even when it means no time with your spouse or children? Are you constantly putting your career before Him?

Granted, doing your job “with all your might” to God’s glory (Ecc. 9:10) while also focusing on a relationship with God is a balancing act. But, “being still” with God must be a part of your daily schedule. We put everything else on our jam-packed calendars, so why not God? Don’t just “pencil” God in. Get out your permanent marker and schedule time with Him. And don’t think that you’ll just give God your “spare” time. God gave His son for you. He wants your best.

Know this: what you truly love, you will make time for. Your family. Your children. Your Savior. If you truly love God, then you will make time for Him. Your actions will reveal your heart.

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