Whoever seeks to save their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matt 10:39) NIV.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. (Matt 10:39) New Living Translation.
* * *
Time cannot be saved; it is a river. It flows, 24 hours a day, 168 hours a week. You cannot save it.
Use the hours well, make them shine, and when you cannot, release them without recrimination into the river of time. Already, the giver of good gifts is sending you more.
* * *
Strength cannot be saved. The more we spend it, the more we exercise, the more our strength grows. Are our bodies telling us something?
* * *
Ideas rust and atrophy when saved. But creativity blooms in the expending of it.
“One of the things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book or for another book; give it, give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes,” Annie Dillard writes in The Writing Life.
* * *
I reflect on these things, and squirm, since, for much of my life, I have been exceedingly precious, careful, indeed stingy with time.
Donald Miller says in Blue Like Jazz, “I believe the greatest trick of the devil is not to get us into some sort of evil, but rather have us wasting time.” I tend to believe him
And so I have been too careful with time, grabbing too much for reading and writing, instead of investing in friendships and activities which would perhaps have brought happiness or health or peace or growth, the rough edges of my character smoothed away.
And I used to burn out with metronomic frequency, growing too tired to read and write.
* * *
Money is the other thing people try to save.
I was relatively relaxed about money as a single woman. When I married and decided not to work for money (except for spells of teaching creative writing at William and Mary and the Loft at Minneapolis), I tried to be careful with money because of guilt over wasting money Roy had earned. And when I was preoccupied about saving and investing–and what a dreadful use of time all that was!!– money was not particularly plentiful.
However, I gradually began to see money as a river from God, some of it flowing to me, giving me the desires of my heart, and some of it flowing through my hands to other people. God was giving me that money to use, or spend, or give away. This river is not to be dammed up and saved, just enjoyed; held lightly, not held on to–for there is plenty more where that came from.
Sometimes I “lose” money, make unwise decisions; sometimes, I am taken advantage of, and money flows through my hands to someone else. That is okay; it is the nature of the river.
When I relinquished my concern about finances to God and turned my attention to other things, they were no longer a particular concern. There seemed to “always be enough.”
* * *
Hmm. Would this work with time too?
“Wasting time?” My father used to ask me with the expression of greatest disapproval and severity (though most of the time, I wasn’t!), and I turned the same disgust on myself if I judged myself to have wasted time.
But I now see “wasted time” as seeds. It’s inert; it seems nothing good came out of it. But put into God’s hands, who knows what beauty may emerge from those seeds?
* * *
So my time challenge is two-fold. To see time as a sparkling river coming towards me, and seek to use it well, while being totally relaxed when things don’t work out as I hoped, and time, apparently, has been wasted.
More, to learn the habit of surrendering my day and its hours to God, giving them to him, asking him to bless them, and work in them. (I haven’t yet learnt this habit!).
* * *
And—here is the challenging part: deliberately “lose” some time, give some time away for the sake of Jesus.
How can I do this?
Now, because my domestic skills are meagre, and because my husband is practical, I do not do much in the way of cooking, shopping, laundry or housekeeping. We have a cleaner who also does some housekeeping. We have gardening help. And Roy who works from home, keeps it running efficiently.
I have often spent more hours serving my church, in leading Bible Studies and speaking, than in serving my family
But for the sake of Jesus, I am planning to help my family in a tiny specific way.
It probably won’t be noticed, except by Jesus for whose sake I am doing it, but it will bring more peace to my soul, and since Jesus says that he who loses his life for His sake will find it, it will be a counter-intuitive surprising way of “finding” time!
So be it. Amen!