When Bo and I worked among International Students, they frequently commented on how obsessed with time Americans were. One student said to me, “What is time to you, really? You are all so obsessed with it, that you never really live it?” Perhaps he was on to something. As a culture, our perception of time seems to rule us.
I never felt this time pressure more acutely than I do as a young parent. There are so many goals, projects, and ministries that I want to do, but can't. On any given day, I would love to achieve so much – work-out, write, spend time with my family, and be attentive to my spiritual life and community. I feel like I am fighting the clock and straight up losing minute by minute.
The paradox is that all these goals we're working so frantically to achieve often suffer because of our obsession to get them done in time. In the spiritual classic, Beginning to Pray, Bishop Anthony Bloom described how as a doctor he was obsessed with time and seeing as many patients as possible. Toward the end of the day, he was always exhausted and behind schedule. Until one day, he decided to forget about time. He focused on each patient and each problem, without worrying about the clock. He finished ahead of schedule. The spiritual lesson is clear: dedication to the moment God has placed us in takes precedence over our perceptions of time and success. Think of Jesus. I am often awestruck at how present he is in each moment. Healing, teaching, at dinner with Pharisees or sinners, he remains attentive to the time God has placed him in. Think what this might look like for us? Could we enjoy our friends and family? Might our work be better more engrossing and fruitful? Our relationship to God richer?
I believe hidden under our idol of time is a deeper idol: fear. Were terrified that were not good, worthy, or successful enough. We are striving to make our time newsworthy and worthwhile. Hurry up, we think. Hurry up, if we can just get this done, all will be well. Oh, it is almost funny. As if our little lives and projects make the sun rise and the moon shine.
The truth is, we are not that important and our time is God's time. Mary did it best. Martha was obsessed with work and achievement, but Mary was content to waste time with Jesus. She understood the truth: Time with Jesus is the meaning of all time.
So, what is the remedy to our obsession with time? An understanding of who we are and whose we are. We belong to God, the maker of all time and things. He is more than pleased with us and we can rest in that fact, giving him all are days and minutes.
So much more could be said on this topic, but I am going to go waste some time with Jesus and my family. I encourage you to do the same.