Is time on our side? Or is the clock against us?
Some people are on good terms with time. They’re able to gauge how long a task will take, and they’ve learned how important it is to schedule a bit of margin into their days so that they can accommodate complications and interruptions. They know how to arrange their use of time around their most important priorities—not merely work priorities, but priorities which rise from their deepest values and highest commitments.
Some of us have a less comfortable relationship with time. It’s a tyrannical taskmaster who demands sacrifices of health, leisure, and relationships. It rushes us so insistently that even important experiences are a blur. The speed at which we run creates such static that we can hardly hear messages meant for our hearts.
How might we heal our relationship with time? An ancient “therapy” is the wisdom of Sabbath; its essence is: at least one-seventh of our waking lives can be given to rest not work; to family and friends rather than deliverables and deadlines; to worship and prayer instead of the culture’s demands and the ego’s clamoring; and to play and pleasure, not pursuit and pressure.
I haven’t practiced Sabbath-wisdom very consistently, because I have wanted to “make time for it.” I’m increasingly convinced, though, that we can’t “make time” for Sabbath; we need, instead, to let the practice of it to repair our troubled relationship with time.
Another “therapy” comes from reflection on these familiar words of Jesus:
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When we’re burdened by too much for too long, when life moves at break-neck and heartbreaking speed, and when it feels like there’s never time to rest, we can be sure that Jesus wants our lives to be different: less stressful and more sustainable.
Busyness isn’t holiness. God’s ways liberate and gladden. God’s grace, which doesn’t’ depend on what we do, encourages us to use time, rather than to be used by it, and to live at a pace which is in step with the rhythms of wholeness.