Time Well Spent

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My laptop crashes to the tile, a work-at-home mother's nightmare scenario. I turn from my cutting board to see the recipe-bearing screen lying face-down on the floor. The cord, left within my 15-month old daughter's reach, had proved too enticing.

I had to replace the trashed hard drive and rebuild the laptop (serious feat for tech-rookie me). Two days, four hundred dollars, and some lost data later, I was back up and running. But it was trying to re-connect the printer back that really brought me to my knees.

Hour after hour I did battle with my HP - installing, uninstalling, rebooting - to no avail. I seethed, raged, and re-doubled my efforts. The computer crash was expensive enough; I wasn't about to fund a new printer too! But each time, same error message: "connection attempt failed." I was irate.

Here's the thing: I loathe spending time doing things that bear no result. Loathe it. Built into my psyche is the belief that I should be able to make time work to achieve my goals. When I can't, I feel robbed and violated.

So I - not technology woes - I am the real problem.

"Beginning in the fourth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, then time-savers, then time-servers," wrote Neil Postman. "In the process, we've learned irreverence toward the sun and seasons, for in a world made up of seconds and minutes, the authority of nature is superseded." And the authority of God too.

With the clock we collude to wrongly view and misuse time. Its minutes tick by; we track, plan, fill them. Time is our commodity - we own it and choose how we'll use it. But it's a lie. God owns time, not us. He gives it to us as a trust for us to steward. So we get a say but not the say in its use.

There are two ways in which we - certainly I - most often dishonor God by wrongly interacting with time.

1. My time is my own, so leave me alone.If I want to spend free time relaxing, watching TV, playing video games, online? what's it to you, or to God? They aren't sins, and relaxing in our over-stressed culture is important.

We do live in an overscheduled and hurry-ridden world, and rest is important (and even commanded). But our society is also overly indulgent and makes every conceivable pleasure readily available for unmitigated wallowing.

If time is God's, then how we use it demands consideration. How would God view our spending hours in front of the TV or poking around on Facebook each night? Such uses of time may well land us the reproach received by the servant who buried his talent in the ground instead of investing it. The master called him "wicked" and "lazy" - two descriptors I hope to avoid when I meet God face to face one day.

February 17, 2009 at 5:06 PM

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