Some of our biggest challenges arise from overcoming bad conditioning.
Our society has an obsession with “saving time” — by which is implied not wasting something that is precious and hard to get. There are a whole raft of assumptions behind this image that are just plain wrong. This presumes an accountability to all manner of authorities, but none of them are ordained by God. Further, it presumes a type of accountability that is contrary to divine design. Oddly, a major element in this obsession is that if you don’t cram your time with efficiency in maximizing measurable accomplishments, you aren’t taking control of things. The real truth is that if you embrace this obsession, control is the last thing you’ll get.
We get all kinds of shock and dismay at the notion that people can be property, but in Scripture, everyone is owned by someone else. But you are always accountable to a person, not a nameless, faceless, disembodied thing that turns out to be most cruel and uncaring master of all. That thing becomes the excuse for the most rapacious and cruel demands leveraged by any number of people who fancy themselves agents of it. They can reject all accountability to you because that thing stands there as the false god who is unmoved by individual plight. It’s a deity with thousands of names that you might recognize: society, common sense, social responsibility, the community, the law, etc. The myth of “we the people” as government is just an excuse to ignore the plaintive cries of the abused.
The Bible presumes a lot of patience because God doesn’t demand a thousand little checkpoints of accomplishment. The bigger issue with time is getting you to move inside your soul from your natural fallen state into full communion with your Creator. There are no goal posts; it’s really up to you how far you let yourself be driven. But there is no other point for being alive, so it really doesn’t matter what you accomplish in other terms. The stuff you do is merely the side-effects, not the point of it all.
There’s no sin in filling your time with distraction, unless that distraction itself leads to sin. The morally best way to fill that time is in worship and direct communion with God. My long bike rides? That’s worship time that uses a physical activity to permit the mind the focus on God. If I had a job that matched my physical limitations and temperament, it would be about the same thing. I could go about my work on the simple basis that work is a good way to pass the time while I reflect on my Lord. It’s an added bonus that working usually benefits others, so I can be even more grateful, but the real objective is not what I accomplish. It’s all about the glory of my Father. If He grants that I have gainful employment, I’m blessed in one way. If my circumstances force me to fill the day with other things, I’m blessed in another way — “a house-husband’s work is never done!”
We have to find our incentive with God. This is the biggest challenge of all. He owns us; He is the ultimate point of accountability. You can know in your heart when things aren’t what they ought to be, and pray for relief. You can learn to be patient with situations that are less than ideal, and make the most of the time God gives you to glorify His name. You can be content until He moves you somewhere else. You don’t have to love what you do or the people you have to face; you have to love the Lord who put you there. Be cynical; Christ was cynical about a lot of things. You aren’t going to change anything that matters except what’s inside of you. Suffer the afflictions of mundane human obsession with grace, because there is nothing more important for you.
I’m not doing what I really want to do right now, but I’m waiting until the fruit ripens.