Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where Does Your Time Go?

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NIV)

Life carries relationships, responsibilities, various seasons, and unexpected twists and turns that alter our course on a daily basis. Granted, nothing can rob you more from an organized life than sickness, disease, busyness, and just plain old procrastination.

As a young newlywed bride in our first apartment, I would get up bright and early and clean it from one end to the other. By 7 am the place was immaculate, and nary a thing moved out of place all day. It was always ready for company and a dinner party at a moment’s notice. Those were the days that the “Martha” in me longs for again!

From the time I was a young girl, I had battled sickness and disease. With a career, husband and child, my body began to rapidly deteriorate in my late 30’s, and was finally diagnosed with a rare neuro-skeletal disorder. It finally had a name, but I had spent the greater part of 10 years in bed throwing up every 3 to 5 minutes all day long, and lying in severe agony. The inability to focus beyond the pain left me unable to do anything, except to pray. Things were forcibly set aside and I had to leave it until I felt healthy enough to deal with it – which never really happened. Life, as a result, began spinning out of control; I would get up and start to work on something, go at it full-force for as much of the day as I could handle, and it was back into to bed until the next “good” day, that might be weeks later, and repeat the same cycle all over again. It could be weeks and months before I would get at it to finish it, and by then it was all undone and I would need to start all over – leaving me exasperated, frustrated, and disillusioned. And, that is where my time went.

How about you? Where has your time gone?

All of us want to keep Him first place in our lives, and He gives us all the gift of 24 hours a day. What we choose do with them and how much we get accomplished, depends on both the free-will choices that He allows us to make... and our circumstances of daily living. Let’s face it, sometimes we can think that our time is not our own.

With our right heart motives, we want to find our “Mary” and to submit our day to the Lord and accomplish all He has for us to do. We want to prayerfully do all the right things and be like the Proverbs 31 woman who accomplishes so much for her Lord, husband, family and such – that they shall rise and call us blessed, and worth far above rubies!

The enemy in turn, as scripture tells us, longs to rob, kill and destroy - and that includes our time. It takes time away from the important and it squanders, wastes, and distracts us from the necessary; time with Him, our families, and ministry opportunities.

There are husbands, children, aging parents, coordinated schedules, jobs, appointments, basic hygiene, health issues, commuting and travelling times, finances, church commitments, ministries, personal study times, pets, businesses to run, unexpected problems, births, deaths, social activities, vacations, birthdays and family celebrations, homeschooling tasks, and housework, that all vie for our attention on a daily basis!

The responsibilities of this world seem to increase day after day, and technology waves its arms wildly and tells us it that it will help us to do more in a shorter amount of time. In reality, we just feel the pressure of worldly obligations to fill in our time with even more things!

No doubt, you are just itching to jump in here and get at it, but this is an important step this week. Don’t underestimate the value of this exercise! Certainly, don’t rely on your memory for this one - you need to write things down in front of you so that you can see what’s what, and what comes next!

Every good business and project has a plan and a logical order of steps.

God, Himself, created the universe in seven days with sequential order and a plan. Just look what it says in Genesis chapter one: on day one, He created day and night; on day two He created sky and earth; day three, He created plants and vegetation; day four brought the sun, moon and stars (they mark seasons, days and years); day five was living creatures of the sky and seas; day six, He created livestock, and creatures that move along the ground – and importantly, He created man in His own image, (male and female, He created them – all in logical order ), commanding them to multiply and be responsible to care for all that He had created.

If He had a plan for the universe, and according to Jeremiah 1:5, we know that He had a plan for us before we were even in our mother’s wombs, then we need to follow His example - and to cooperate with a plan that lines up with His purposes and plans! Prayer and focus becomes very important in the grand scheme of “keeping it all together”!

The seventh day, of course, was a day of rest. So, let’s pause for a moment in the middle of our busyness and sit in a quiet place. Be still and know that He is God. Grab a cup of your favourite beverage, and a notebook and pen and make yourself comfortable in your favourite spot. We need to see and clarify what is really the most important and begin to weed out the unimportant!

First, take a few moments and ask the Lord to quiet your heart, and help you see things as He sees them from His perspective. Since we don’t always see things as He can, or as others outside of our situations, sometimes this can bring fresh revelation to our problems and circumstances. Ask Him to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:1-6)... acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. (Prov 3:6)

Make a list of what you need to accomplish every day. Remember, not what you “want” to do, but what you “need” to do. There is a big difference between the two. Depending on your lifestyle and season of life that you are in, there is no pat answer on this one, so simply start where you are at and with what you are able. Remember, this is constantly changing and evolving as you go along, so don’t feel like it has to be written in stone. Just start with what you see as a priority or need for your home and life.

On one page for each, write down where your time has gone, what has been well-invested time, what has been wasted time, and any forced circumstances on your time and energy. (Some examples of this may be an unexpected illness, caring for a sick family member, a job transfer, or a financial crisis.)

Continue to make a few more pages...What is your purpose or your destiny? What is it that you were born and created to do? Have you asked your Heavenly Father what that is? Do you have a sense already? How is He guiding you and journeying through the process step-by-step? Do you see it falling into alignment?

What is His Will and plan for you? What are your personal goals that line up with it? If we put Him first, He says He will give us the desires of our hearts. Think in term of long term and short term goals. Don’t get overwhelmed, you don’t have to do it all now. You just need see what they are.

What is the season of life that you are in? Perhaps you have small children and you are homeschooling, and you desire to write a series of books; realistically, you may see that you are not able to write a book a month, but you may find that you can accomplish by 15 minutes a day, an hour at bedtime three times a week, or one day week. What steps can you take to make that “want” or “goal” happen during this particular phase of your life?

Now write down what you need more time for - the priorities in your life - God first, your husband, your children, church, ministry, housework, education, career goals, and so forth. Over the course of this week, as you continue to pray, write down each thought, idea, problem and revelation as it comes to you. This will be a great start to getting things into a workable plan and a semblance of order.

Scripture tells us we will stand before Him one day, and give an account. That certainly includes our time. So do keep Him your first priority and ask Him to lead your time and your day.

Many of the great men of faith, of whom we read their autobiographies, all state very strongly that they started their day in prayer and study. For some, this may mean getting up a few minutes early in the day, but how much better your day will go when He gets the first portion! So, start your day with prayer, it is too important to miss!

Be sure to use discernment. Ask the family members of your household what they think or what changes they can suggest to help keep things running smoothly, as this will affect them too. We will begin incorporating the routines later on, and it will help when you are all working together for the common goal of “keeping it all together”. It will also aid in developing good training, discipline and accountability habits for everyone in your household!

How will you fit it all into His plans and put it into to what looks like an already jam-packed schedule of duties and obligations?

Take the time and figure it out....

Where does your time go?

Copywrite August 2008
Revisions newly made/Originally posted on Take Root and Write

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