24-hour curse, “divine time” blessing

by Kristin on September 15, 2011

in Belief, doubt & hope

Photo by Ron Bennett

I think it’s safe to say we’re all familiar with the curse of the 24-hour day, right? There’s never enough time, so we have to do the dance of prioritizing, and pushing things to the back-burner. (I’m in a phase of my life when I feel that curse almost every day.)

How do the priorities shake out? In a busy household with kids, they tend to look like this: Buy, prepare and serve healthy meals; transport kids to violin lessons and soccer practice; herd kids into showers and baths; trim toenails before they poke through shoes; guide kids through a tricky set of math problems; do a load of wash so there’s clean underwear in each dresser; get everyone to bed at a decent time, in hopes that all are healthy and ready for the next day.

What usually gets back-burnered? The long walks and deep talks. The lazy evenings spent lounging together in the living room. The open-ended time for dreaming and laughing. Sure, those meaningful moments can fill in the cracks of busy days, but they need a sense of unhurried time and open space to really flourish.

The same sort of thing happens with my work. Urgent deadlines, client requests, and emails that must be answered fill the top of my to-do list. Blog writing gets squeezed in (often at the expense of sleep, or time spent with my husband), and that longer, deeper, important writing gets pushed aside. It too needs unhurried time and open space to really flourish.

Seeking a new sense of time in the Christian life

So how does this all translate to the day-to-day Christian life? How do we prioritize? What seems most urgent, and what gets back-burnered?

Jason is in a Bible study that just finished reading the book of Acts. One of the things he said they noticed, as they were looking back on the book as a whole, was this sense of “divine time.” The early church in Acts doesn’t seem to have a game plan—a clear timeline featuring a checklist of goals with cities to cover and people to reach—as much as they have a state of being within an open-ended understanding of time. Divine time, not human time.

Yes, there’s an urgency behind what they’re doing, but the urgency is driven by the message and the individual relationships, not the clock or calendar, or numbers of any kind.

Tying urgency to the heart, not the clock

Somehow, Christian evangelical culture seems to have adopted a very human, time-based urgency—one that’s driven by a belief that “I could die tomorrow” or “the world could end tomorrow” so I have to “get it done” today.

It’s true, we don’t know how much time we have on this earth. And it’s true that Jesus told his disciples to go out and “make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:16-20) We shouldn’t be casual about that call, but we also shouldn’t be rushed.

When we rush the work of Jesus (who, by the way, never seemed rushed), we miss the deep connections, the below-the-surface conversations, the people and issues that get cast aside and overlooked. We spend our time doing the Christian equivalent of folding clean underwear and clipping toenails, and we miss the opportunities to ask questions, tell stories, and really listen, the way Jesus did.

Do you think it’s possible to separate “urgency” from the clock and calendar?

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  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    As a husband and dad of two kids I completely identify with feeling the pressure of overwhelming schedules and operating on survival mode. And that’s after finishing a 2 year MBA while working full time.

    I don’t know if it’s completely possible to separate “urgency” from the schedule, but it’s good to pause and gain perspective.

  • http://removingthescarf.blogspot.com Emilee

    What struck me the most from this post and what has remained on my mind since I read it yesterday was your comment that Jesus never seemed rushed. I’m floored by that observation. It’s one I’ve never before considered.

    Good things to think about in regard to separating urgency from our human sense of time. I’m constantly adding to my never-ending to-do list and always feeling behind. And I’m single and childless! To God be the glory if I ever make it as a wife and mom someday (and Lord have mercy on my kids who I’ll probably forget to bathe and will likely have ridiculously long toenails). :) Keep on keeping on, lady.

  • http://themoderngal.com The Modern Gal

    This is a great point, especially that God works at his own pace. I’ve found myself getting frustrated so much lately — why can’t things be better now? why can’t I have this or that now? — and yet I know in the back of my mind that God has revealed all the greatest blessings in my life slowly and in his own time. Good changes in our society seem to happen very slowly. If you think about how old humanity actually is, it suddenly doesn’t seem so slow. So why are we in such a hurry?

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    ThatGuyKC, yeah, we probably won’t ever be able to separate urgency from time, completely. But since I wrote this, I’ve been thinking more about love—the urgency I feel to love on the people I love, not because my time with them is limited (although I realize it is), but because the love is so big. I guess that’s the closest I can get to taking time out of the picture, right now.

    Emilee, you know, I had never really put together that idea about Jesus, either, until I wrote this post. But once it hit me, it seemed huge! Just thinking about Jesus rushing around, looking distracted and impatient as people talked to him, worrying about how much sleep he was going to get that night, etc., is pretty funny. :) Btw, thanks for the conversation we had this week, which fed into this post.

    The Modern Gal, this is so absolutely true for me, too: “I know in the back of my mind that God has revealed all the greatest blessings in my life slowly and in his own time.” Good moves slowly—we can help by telling these stories and reminding one another to be patient.

  • http://takingtheyoke.blogspot.com Ray Hollenbach

    We are so captive to our society, its priorities and values. Who will save us?

    “When we rush the work of Jesus (who, by the way, never seemed rushed), we miss the deep connections, the below-the-surface conversations, the people and issues that get cast aside and overlooked.” ~ is it possible the deep connections, the below-the-surface conversations, the people and issues that get cast aside and overlooked actually were is work?

  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie

    This definitely resonates with me – so often I create my own urgency, because I’m longing to have something to do, something to make me feel important, like I’m doing what “needs” doing. When I step away and make time for that space, it’s so refreshing.

    I don’t know if it’s entirely possible to separate urgency from time – but it’s vitally important to pause, as ThatGuyKC said.

  • http://www.halfwaytonormal.com Kristin T.

    Ray, yes, I’m pretty sure we’re often confusing the work with the “extras,” getting the formula all wrong in terms of their importance. It’s tough to break out of a cycle that the world around you seems to have tightly set in motion. Do you have any strategies?

    Katie, you touch on something really important and honest—this idea that being busy is often tied to our desire to feel worthy and important. Maybe the starting point is really just examining what our individual busyness entails and what it stems from. We have to confront it at the core rather than try to chip away at its exterior.