Redeeming the Time
I spent the last few hours searching for images of actors whose faces I could use as characters for a trilogy of novels I’m writing. The problem is, I originally intended to spend only a few minutes on this – but here I am, four hours later, and what began as a purposeful search morphed into wasting time scrolling through photo after photo of Tom Hiddleston, watching video after video of interviews with different actors and actresses, and reading one interesting article after another. This is not the first time I’ve come to the end of an “entertainment” binge feeling guilty and wishing desperately that I had used my time better. Unfortunately, this has become an all-too-familiar pattern in my life.
I see how quickly life is passing by, and I want to make every moment matter. But despite my best intentions, I always find myself sliding back into my old habits of spending hours on things that don’t matter.
This isn’t just a matter of spending too much time online – it’s what information I’m choosing to consume while I’m spending that time.
I've realized that any video, article, or photo that was attractive, funny, and/or had to do with Hollywood stars, automatically gets my attention. But the moment I happen upon articles dealing with the persecution of Christians in the Middle East, Scripture verses, or exposing my addiction to the American dream, I skip, skim, or ignore them.
[pullquote width="300" float="left"]“We all like being comfort-handlers but let a comfortable life wrap itself around you and that’s what ends up being the snake that snaps it’s head and poisons your life with pointlessness.” –Ann Voskamp[/pullquote]
Our culture has influenced us to believe that the best parts of life are conveniences, wealth, comfort, status, and appearance – and I have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the lie that entertainment is the standard of what deserves the most of my time and attention.
But I know that’s not true. Those things are hollow, transitory, and distractions from reality. They feed my flesh and ego, which is why their luring power is so strong.
I don’t want to find myself at the end of my life, or even at the end of this one season I’m currently in, having wasted the moments of my days on things that don’t contribute to God’s kingdom, to other people’s lives, or to the betterment of the world.
As disciples of Christ, we are stewards of every resource He’s given us – and that includes our time. How are you spending yours?
Do some soul-searching. If you find that, like me, you struggle with using time well, then take heart. Change is not impossible. To overcome the patterns of the past, all it takes is:
You have to decide within yourself that you are going to do this, even if you don’t want to. God has given you the power of choice – it’s up to you to decide that you’re going to exercise this ability He’s given you through the Holy Spirit.
No change can happen without God’s help. Even your best efforts will fail without His strength and guidance helping you along the way. Make the time to pray and you will see His amazing work in your life.
Believe that it’s possible to change. Believe that He cares about your struggles and desire to live better. Believe that He hears your prayers. Believe that He will answer them.
Thinking that you can move forward without a plan to address past habits is foolish. You will accidentally fall into the same pitfalls as before if you don’t set up barriers to protect you from making those mistakes again. And when I say you, I mean me. We’re in this thing together, right? Good.
So get some paper and a pen, and write down the one main time-wasting habit that seems to keep popping up in your life. Now identify whether it’s something you need to get rid of completely (starve) or something that needs some boundaries set up around it (limit).
If it needs to starve, then darling, just grit your teeth and do the hard stuff – cut it loose and shove it out of your life. Pray for strength to follow through.
If it needs to be limited, then write down the purposes for which it ought to be used and how long/often it should take. Then write down exactly how you’re going to limit yourself to stay focused on those purposes and timeframes.
Prayer is an essential part of this process, as is accountability. Find someone you trust, a friend or family member (or us! Our team is more than willing to pray with you through this and keep you accountable) who will commit to holding you to your action plan.
There’s no sense in praying and planning if you don’t bother to put forth the effort necessary to turn intention into action. When God shows you what to do, do it. Don’t think about it, dream about it, dance around it, ignore it – Just Do It. God made it very clear in the Bible that obedience is always blessed – so don’t expect to get the blessing without the obedience first.
This is a road we’re all walking together, love, in one way or another. Let’s refuse to accept our comfort zones, entertainment-focused mindsets, and time-wasting habits any longer. And let’s pursue with passion lives of purpose.
Life is too short and precious to settle for anything less.