The Psalmist teaches us to pray: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” If the Psalmist were living today, and a typically modern person, he might pray something quite different: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may fit one more thing in our schedules;” or “Lord, give us strength to endure one more busy week (or weekend).” The truth is that most of us are far too busy far too much of the time. We don’t make time for reflection, we merely react.
Gandhi once said, “There is more to the meaning of life than increasing its speed.” I have a friend who compares the lives most of us lead to a TV without an antennae: He says we are “out of focus” and “don’t make much sense;” in other words there’s plenty of action and noise, but it’s hard to see what is really going on.
Some questions for your consideration: Do we know what’s really going on in our lives or are we just filling them up? Do we know what’s really going on in the lives of our children or husband/wife; are we paying attention or merely assuming? Are our lives solid and real or are they “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”? Do we stay busy in order to avoid solitude? Are we anxious when we don’t have something to do? Do we have the inner resources to cope with outer demands or do we feel overwhelmed? Do we sleep peacefully at night or do we lie awake with our minds racing? Are we in control of our schedules or are they dictating to us?
Thank God, you and I don’t have to figure it out by ourselves. If Jesus is our Lord, then in him we have an example of how to order our lives. There was no one busier than Jesus–and yet he never hurried or was rushed. He knew what it was to face an unending stream of demands on his time and attention, yet he also knew how to take time to be alone. Jesus had priorities and the first was his commitment to his Father: Seek first the kingdom of God…my food (what sustains me, the source of my energy) is to do the will of him who sent me.
I want to suggest that his example is our model and that we can talk some concrete steps to follow in his footsteps, to live a simpler, more focused, richer, and more satisfying life:
- Watch less TV—everything you see on it is contrived and focused on selling you something.
- Read more—it allows you to think, reflect, and move at your own natural pace.
- Put the phone down and step away from the computer—you’re really not missing anything.
- Stop measuring your worth by what you own (another friend of mine says all that is not given away is lost).
- Take walks—it’s physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
- Cultivate a disciplined inner life through prayer, Bible study, mediation, reflection, worship, and service to others.
- Commit yourself to specific priorities. Consider whether your faith in Jesus Christ is merely one of many priorities in your life or the priority–the foundation on which our life is built.
Life is not a sprint, but a marathon; live at a pace you can sustain over the long run. Sure, marathoners vary their pace at different points in the race but the really good ones know that increased speed comes at a cost, and too much speed for too long leads to ”bonking.” Remember the Psalmists’ words: “Lord, teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Oh, and be sure to remember you’re running a race and not just running around.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Rev. Don Muncie