I think it’s interesting that we refer to time as something to be spent, as if it is a type of currency. When we choose to spend our time one way, we are also choosing how we are not going to spend it, just as we do with money. “So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don’t live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants” (Ephesians 5:16-17, The Message). God desires that we understand how He wants us to live. He’s not trying to hide His purposes from us because He wants us to live in a way that brings honor and glory to Him. He directs our steps, and He asks us to live intentionally, making the best use of the time we are given. This summer, I am pledging that I will waste as little time as possible. I want to reap the greatest benefit from the way I choose to spend my time. As Ephesians 5 says, I don’t want to live carelessly and unthinkingly, squandering time on meaningless pursuits. To that end (and remember that I am writing this at the beginning of the summer, so maybe you should check in with me in July to see how I am doing!), here are a few things that I would like to see less of in my days:
- Social media Y’all, I don’t even want to begin to calculate the number of hours, days, or weeks (dare I say months?) that I have spent on Facebook since 2008. While social media has some great positives, and I am the first to use it to spread the word about important things, it is also one of the greatest time wasters of the twenty-first century. At the very least, I could be improving my mind by reading something worthwhile and challenging with the time I spend scrolling through various feeds; at best, I could be making an impact for the gospel in the real world.
- Television I absolutely love Netflix. I love that I can control what my son watches, and that he rarely, if ever, watches TV with commercials. I love watching a favorite series from beginning to end, seeing the entire arc of the storyline from start to finish. And we can spend hours and hours doing just that. Binge-watching is huge among women my age. And just like social media, while the evolution of television has some great advantages, choosing to spend hours of our days in front of the TV means that we are exchanging something that is okay for things that could be great.
- Worry I worry about my cancer. I worry about our elderly relatives who live in another state. I worry about whether or not my young son is getting all that he needs to grow in godliness and maturity. I worry about the yard work that’s not getting done. I worry that we eat too much junk food. I worry about the money (or lack of) in the bank. Do you see a pattern here? Worry can consume us to the point of inaction. I’ve seen it happen. Worry takes our focus off Christ and what He is doing in our lives and puts it squarely on ourselves. Instead of worrying, we are much better served by laying all our burdens at Jesus’ feet, and actively doing whatever He is asking us to do today.
- Intentional conversations It doesn’t take much to have meaningless conversations. We casually inquire with people at the grocery store, walking down the street, and after church on Sundays. It takes more than that to be intentional about building relationships with others. We have to make time to pursue friendships that deepen and challenge us. I have a list of people whom I would like to know better, and I would be willing to bet that you do too. This summer, I want to make that list shorter by having intentional conversations, seeking those people out, and putting in the work to be able to speak Jesus into their lives.
- Old-fashioned play We love to go to the park – to play, to meet up with friends, to feed the ducks. Just this morning, we picked strawberries from a local U-Pick patch. I want my son, Henry, to learn, and I need to be reminded, that we don’t need fancy toys or electronics to have fun. We can leave all of that behind and follow the ant trails, literally and figuratively. Such times are also great opportunities for me to really listen to my son, hear his heart, and guide him to find truth in God’s Word.
- Reading And not just the kind of scrolling skim most of us do on our smart phones and tablets. I want to read actual books. There was a time before the advent of all of our technology that I read LOTS of books a year. Now, I read half of what I used to. So, how am I spending that extra time? I’m wasting it on things that give little return in the way of self-improvement. The greatest reading I can do is to study God’s Word, something that becomes more difficult during the schedule-free days of summer. If I am going to know how God wants me to spend my time, the best place to discover His priorities is in His Word.
- Gardening My favorite summer pastime is tending the vegetable garden I share with a friend. We joke that gardening is cheaper than therapy, but for us, being outside, away from the distractions of modern life, does serve as a kind of therapy. Our garden is a place to be in the quiet of nature, away from our real-world problems. We play in the dirt, we are reminded that we may plant but God gives the harvest, and we have yummy vegetables at the end of the process.