Monday, May 1, 2017

How to Take Hold of a Life that's Flying By

Make the most of your time

"Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." 
Psalm 90:12

I remember riding in the car with my dad one night many years ago as he played a song for me. It was a significant song, one he wanted me to hear so that I would learn something. Neither one of us can remember what song it actually was, but I have always remembered one of the lyrics was "you can only count on time" (Google has convinced me I misheard the lyrics and that no such song exists). Anyway, wrong lyrics or not, it has stuck with me ever since. 

Aside from God, time is the one thing in our lives that is constant. It cannot be changed. You can't slow it down or speed it up. You can't rewind or fast forward it. A minute will always lasts 60 seconds, an hour 60 minutes, a day 24 hours. Time goes on. If there's nothing else that we can put our trust in, we can trust that time will go by. I have found comfort in this on hard days, but in this, I've also found great fear. The years speed by faster the older I get. A school day used to feel like an eternity, now a week comes and goes before I can catch my breath. If you let it, it will utterly terrify you. 

The concept that our time is short is nothing new. Almost every great artist has written a song about it. There are countless quotes reminding us of it. But did you know that even scripture warns us of our limited time and urges us to spend it wisely?


"Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." 
James 4:14

"Man is like breath; his days are like a passing shadow." 
Psalm 144:4

"So be very careful how you live. Do not live like those who are not wise, but live wisely. Use every chance you have for doing good, because these are evil times. So do not be foolish but learn what the Lord wants you to do."
 Ephesians 5:15-17

“LORD, remind me how brief my time on earth will be. Remind me that my days are numbered–how fleeting my life is. You have made my life no longer than the width of my hand. My entire lifetime is just a moment to you; at best, each of us is but a breath.” 
Psalm 39:4-5 

So what do we do with this assurance that our time is short? In a world obsessed with instant gratification and shortcuts, how do we slow down and savor the time we've been given?

Take Your Eyes Off of the Screen

We live in a society that has a need for constant stimulation. I don't know about you, but I can't wait in line or at a stoplight without pulling out my phone to mindlessly scroll through Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. I find myself reaching for my phone to distract me in times of stress and worry or simply out of boredom. 

An hour flies by in an instant as my face is buried in my phone, consumed by the lives of others as my own happens around me.

I see my happiest days through my screen as I take a ridiculous amount of pictures in a desperate attempt to hold onto the moment forever. Pictures that will be forgotten, lost among pictures of last night's dinner and screenshots of hairstyle inspiration, until I'm forced to delete them to make room for more fabricated "memories." 

We worry so much about taking the perfect picture or crafting the most compelling status update to make our lives appear interesting that our lives actually become dull. Our attempts to impress others steal our attention and rob us of the present. Filter enhanced pictures and staged snap chat stories take the place of real life experiences. 

Now I'm not saying that our phones and social media are all bad or that we should never take pictures. We just need to be mindful of how much time we're spending on these things so that we can recognize when we are using them for good and when we're just wasting precious time. 

To really experience our lives to the fullest, we need to get more intentional about actually living in the moment instead of living to document it. 

Stop Rushing to the Future

My husband and I are very future oriented people. We're planners. We don't make decisions without considering how they may affect our lives down the road. It's good, really. There is a sense of security when you live that way, but there's also a nagging little voice inside of my head that reminds me we aren't promised the future. 

Are you living so much for the future that you're missing the present? Do you have the mindset of "when I get here, when I have this, when I meet this goal....then I'll be happy, then I'll start living, then I'll enjoy my life...?"

It's great to have goals. It's great to set yourself up for a secure future. But it's not okay to trade today for uncertain tomorrows. Proverbs 27:1 says "Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring." 

I've had patients tell me that they spent their lives working nonstop, planning to finally start living once they retired. But then they got sick and so far their retirement has been spent in and out of the hospital not feeling well enough to enjoy anything, their hard earned money being depleted by the cost of medications and doctor bills.

The thing is, we can plan, we can put money aside, we can work hard and we should, but we never know what tomorrow will bring or if tomorrow will even come at all. So if we want to be good stewards of our time, there has to be a balance. 

1 Timothy 6:6 tells us that wealth is found when we are fully content with what we have right now (my paraphrase). Today is full of so much blessing and promise, stop rushing through it to get to tomorrow. 

But Stop Wasting Time

Can you imagine how it would feel to get to the end of your life and realize all of your dreams are still just dreams? Either out of fear or procrastination, you never accomplished anything you hoped to. I'm not scared of death. I know that Heaven is going to be far better than life here could ever be, but I am scared of wasting my time, of not living to my full potential.

I love what Ecclesiastes 11:4 says: "whoever keeps staring at the wind won’t sow; whoever daydreams won’t reap." 

God doesn't honor our plans, He honors our actions. As His children we are equipped with everything we need to be successful. So that dream you've been scared to go after, chase it. That job you've always wanted, apply for it. That talent that you keep hidden, use it. Live your life confident in the favor of God instead of in surrender to fear and doubt.

Just like that old song my dad and I can't remember despite it's impact, life comes and goes so live it while you can. Dale Partridge said, "we can't do anything about the length of our life, but we can do something about its depth." 

Can you change the way you're spending your time to add depth to your life today?  



6 comments:

  1. I try to go lower and go slower in order to live a life that is mindful. I try to remember that eternity has already started for the believer and that the only real time we have is now.

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  2. My daughter and I were talking about this last night. She is expecting her fourth child any day now. We were discussing how it's become faux pas to encourage young moms to enjoy their children now because the time goes by so fast. But it's true! We only have this present moment, to enjoy... or wish away.
    And by the way, I love this line... "Live your life confident in the favor of God instead of in surrender to fear and doubt." Amen!

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    1. Yes, it definitely seems like a cliche thing to say, but it is so true. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

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  3. God wants us to slow down every day!

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  4. Wow this is so encouraging and like eye opening. I literally have been praying for balance. I said God how can I become successful make plans ( short term goals long term goals) if I am not supposed to worry about tomorrow. It had become stressful to me. But this right here has help me to understand much more clear what God means. Wow we need balance Glory to God. This is good

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! It's definitely all about balance and I think we all struggle with what that looks like. I'm so glad that you found this post encouraging!

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