“If only I could have some extra time!” “If only there were more hours in the day!” Well, this week we actually do get extra time! There aren’t more hours in the day, but there is an extra day in the year. So how are you spending it? Did the leap day get filled with all the normal things that squeeze your schedule? If so, your problem isn’t the amount of time God gives you, but how you use it. Few, if any, of us need all our time for basic survival. If you think you don’t have free time, you likely do. You’ve just already filled it.
Busyness is one of the markers of our time. We’re a culture that values productivity, and that’s not altogether bad. But in all our technological progress, you'd think some of it would translate into more free time. Studies of cultures in the past suggest that’s not the case. For example, the average American worker in 2017 put in 1,780 hours. Historians claim that an average medieval peasant worked around 1,620!
Some might argue they’re so busy because they have the freedom to do things they want to do. But is this level of activity itself, the frenetic pace of life, good for us? Particular to my concern is: Is it good for us as spiritual creatures?
Churches, along with civic organizations, clubs, even social circles, are suffering because we are filling our time without filling our souls and lives. I notice a trend that people dedicate most of their time to either achievement or entertainment. This means people are rushing for work, school, sports, etc., or completely engrossed in their phones and TVs. But we were made to do more than achieve and medicate. To be most human is to be in connection with God and others. Is our busyness accomplishing that for us? I fear that in many cases, it isn’t. Depression and mental health are a crisis, along with drug abuse, addiction to social media, and the disintegration of close friendships among many people.
Take these words from God as your excuse to slow down, to say “no,” and to be about the things that will last:
"All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24-25).
“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:16-17).
“Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:38-42)