I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I have just lived the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well. Diane Ackerman
For some of you, the last six months have seemed like the longest six months of your life because you have no energy and no passion for life. Maybe you feel as if you’re simply going through the motions, listless and discontent, wondering if this is all life has to offer.
We’ve all experienced seasons in our lives when time seemed to grind by as we watched the clock, willing the seconds to pass forever. On the other hand, you can probably recall times when the hours flew by. Think about those occasions when you lost all sense of time and felt entirely caught up in the present moment, immersed in the activity at hand or enjoying the people around you. What makes the difference? Why do some days feel so much more meaningful than others? How can we be fully engaged with the present and not get trapped by the past or paralyzed by the future?
To answer these questions, consider how you would view time differently if you knew your last day was just a calendar page away. If you knew you only had one month to live, certainly those remaining minutes, hours, and days would become your most precious commodity. You would immediately stop taking time for granted and would be aware of how you spent every minute. You would want each of them to be rich with enjoyment, significance, and investment in others.
I’m not talking about how to add years to your life but rather how to add life to your years. In his letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote,
“Companions as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us.” 2 Corinthians 6:1 MSG
He’s saying, “Don’t squander your time because time is your life.” If you waste your time, you waste your life. Time once spent cannot be reclaimed. Once an hour, minute or moment is over, it’s gone forever. However, we can redeem the remaining time we have. We can reconsider our God-given purpose and the eternal legacy we want to leave behind and allow them to guide our schedule moving forward. How do we refocus? The only way you and I can make the most of our remaining time is to spend each day in such a way that we leave behind a worthwhile legacy on this earth. And, if we’re going to use our time in such a way that we leave a lasting mark, then we have to pass the effectiveness test.
Studies show that 20 percent of what you do brings most of the results in your life, and 80 percent of what you do is pretty much wasted time. So how effective is your use of time? If you spend more time in the areas that bring you the most results and less time in ineffective pursuits, then you will accomplish more by doing less!
One of the other challenges for most of us is what I call the productivity paradox.
We’re conditioned to believe that, in order for our time to be worthwhile, we must have something to show for it. We produce something – another report, a new document, a better system, an improved product. Many people I know feel pressured to produce – even during their vacation and free time! They can’t enjoy just relaxing by the pool or going for a walk or sleeping late because they don’t have anything to show for it!
The fact is that we all need downtime to rest and to worship, to still ourselves before God, to think about our lives and to listen to His voice. The paradox is that we may not have anything to show for these truly productive moments. There is great freedom in learning to operate with an eternal perspective and not just by the watch on our wrists. A regular time of rest and recovery, a Sabbath, is essential in our schedules. We need to become attuned to a greater measure of time than mere clocks and calendars.
If you knew you only had a month to live, wouldn’t you want to take more time to linger over a meal with your family? To inhale the rich aroma of a cup of coffee as you watch the sunrise through your kitchen window? To cheer your son at his basketball game? To read a meaningful book, poem, or passage of Scripture? To take a walk through the piney woods, listening to the birds chatter? None of these events will produce a product or allow you to point to an accomplishment. But, they’re essential to our well-being. Our value is so much more than what we do.
If you want to restore the passion in your life, then begin now to make the most or your time by applying your energy to the areas that are your ongoing priorities. Keep in mind the legacy you want to leave behind – in the work you do, through the relationships you keep, and by the way you spend each day.
- Keep a time journal this week, and jot down how you spend each day. Try to rate your productivity (what you accomplish) along with your contentment (how you experienced each day). How would you rate the cost-effectiveness of how you invested your time?
- What was the biggest time waster in your past week? What was the payoff for you? Did it distract you, entertain you, allow you to avoid someone? Is there a way to use your time differently and have a greater, more significant impact? Come up with a short list of alternate activities you can pursue the next time you’re tempted to waste time by default.
- Discover how connecting with a church family can restore your passion for life! Join us at our Membership or Life Class this Sunday at a Woodlands Church campus near you. Register now for either class!