July / August 2018
Anyone involved in coordinating activities on behalf of our Church will know that over the last few months my attendance at various activities has been a tad erratic to say the least! I’ve always had an air of being a bit scatty, but lately my ability to lose track of set dates and my role on particular days has reached new heights. I barely see anyone now without having to apologise for something. So for this issue I’d like to focus on time, and our relationship with it.
Advertisers, and the media in general, would like us to believe that these days anything is possible. Never before have we been bombarded with so much information on what is available to mankind – products, adventure, lifestyles, jobs, family, relationships – we can readily see not just what those in our immediate vicinity are up to but what people as a whole are doing. At first sight this gives us ultimate freedom, and the implication is that we should be inspired. Often, however, it can be felt as a burden – we feel not that we can have it all, but that we should have it all. We should perform to the max in every sphere, and the number of spheres just keeps growing.
Of course, it is impossible to do everything on offer. It is even more impossible to do everything on offer with flair and panache. We cannot be workers, parents, siblings, friends, carers, golfers, footballers, scuba divers, chefs, DIYers, gardeners, supermodels, Formula One racing drivers, pet owners, political activists, linguists, artists………………..It can’t be done.
It is right that we strive to be our best selves. It is what we owe to ourselves and to God. There is limited time available to each of us though, so it takes discernment – a choice about what we take on and when and how. Otherwise we can be left chasing our tails. We can miss the zest, the flavour, the nuance. We can miss the smell of spring, or the sound of crisp new snow underfoot, or the freshness in the air after a storm. We can miss the taste of a good coffee and a nice slice of cake. We can miss the need in the person opposite to have a hug or a kind word. It’s possible to run through an entire life and be so busy that you miss almost all of it!
The other matter, of course, is that whilst we should try to do our best, success lies not with us but is in God’s hands. The scurrying desire to be what we are not takes us from His plan for us, from the activities upon which He would have us focus.
So, I’ll end with a couple of thoughts from the Bible:
The first to show the futility of trying to out-plan God with achievements:
‘You don’t even know what your life tomorrow will be! You are like a puff of smoke, which appears for a moment and then disappears. What you should say is this: “If the Lord is willing, we will live and do this or that”. (James 4: 14-15).
The second to remind us what life can be like – joyous communion.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).