Winning the battle against the clock

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them. James 4:17 (NIV)

This past Sunday, as part of my message on Living Like You Are Dying, I polled the congregation with regard to their battle with the clock. What I found, although not surprising considering the world in which we live, was a cause for concern.  Nearly two thirds (60%) of all those in attendance acknowledged that they frequently or very frequently wish they could “slow the pace of my life and reorder some of my priorities.”  And an additional 28% said they think about that occasionally. When given a list of things to choose from that they often regret, related to use of time, the top regret chosen by 73% of the people in attendance was “Not making the most of each moment.”

Bottom line, the poll confirmed that most people are too busy.  As a result many are battling to slow their pace in life and would love to reorder their priorities.  Does that describe you?

What would it be like to live in a world where we had all the time we needed to do the things that were really important.  What if we never had to rush or never felt hurried?  What if we were so in the present we could make the most of and savor each moment?  That would genuinely be paradise would it not?

Living that way is possible and you don’t have to die and go to heaven to experience it. 

To fully grasp that possibility we need to consider the life of Jesus.  Remarkably, He modeled that very lifestyle for us while He was on the earth.  Although subject to tremendous time pressure and unceasing demands, Jesus was never rushed or caught up in the frenzy around Him.  He was able to maintain with crystal clarity His priorities.  He never wavered in His commitment to accomplish them despite the din of voices pulling Him in multiple directions.  He was so present and focused in living each moment to the fullest that in the press of a crowd, even a touch on the hem of His garment by a desperate woman, did not go unnoticed.  While actually on His way to the home of a dying girl, He stopped without any hesitancy to address that woman’s need. (Mark 5:21-34)

The secret to Jesus’ ability to be the master of His use of time was His intimate relationship with His Father in heaven.  He was able to conquer the clock because His heart was to discover His Father’s will and only do the things that pleased Him.  (John 5:19 & 8:29)  That enabled Him to recognize and do the good His Father would have Him do in the unfolding of each moment.

In essence, Jesus not only modeled that for us, but He also taught us how to do the same.  It is summarized best by one phrase from Jesus’ teaching on prayer.  “Pray then in this: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be your name way.  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” (Matthew 6:9-10)

Coming into and focusing on a relationship with the heavenly Father is the starting place.  That of course is possible through entrusting our lives under the kingship/lordship of His son, Jesus Christ.  But in order to master the moment and maintain right priorities there must be a daily seeking of God’s will.  Just like Jesus made it a priority each day to spend time alone with the Father, we must also commit to being daily in His presence and praying for His will to be done on earth in our lives. 

Such prayer helps us in the planning of our day and provides some general direction.  However it does not guarantee us knowing His will ahead of time like having some kind of printed agenda or timetable for the day.  The biggest thing praying for God’s will does for us, is that it sensitizes us to recognizing opportunities He puts in our path to do good as the day unfolds.   Imagine the will of God and doing good as the bulls eye of a target.  The trajectory of our lives, like an arrow, is meant to hit the bulls eye.

That is why James is his writing about the believer’s use of time says that not doing the good God gives us the opportunity to do is like “missing the mark.”   “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”  (James 4:17)  The Greek word for sin is hamartia which means to “miss the mark” or “not hit the target.” 

The best way to keep busyness at bay, slow our pace in life and live according to God’s priorities is to recognize and do the good He places in our path each day.  That in its simplest and purest form is the will of God.  It is sad we so often miss it.  Like an arrow we go speeding right by the target opportunities God has planned for us. 

The wonder of doing good often forces us to push the pause button on our busyness and slow our pace.  Also, there is no regret in doing good.  In fact, to the contrary, it brings us a sense of satisfaction and joy.

What have you learned about battling the clock with God’s help?  For more on this topic check out this article on 8 Ways to Be Present.

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