Sartin: As time goes by, we aren't spending it wisely

October 14, 2010

Fall. School has begun for students of all ages. Many extended family vacations have come to an end for another year. Fall sports are under way. Thoughts are turning toward cold weather and the upcoming holidays. It is a time of transition, a season when new schedules and routines are falling into place. Can it be that another year is almost over? Where did the time go?

Every spring we make an accounting of our income for the IRS. I wonder what an accounting of our time use might look like. How wisely are we using the 8,760 hours of life that we are blessed with each year? Taking out about 5,000 hours for working and sleeping for most people, what is happening with the other 3,760 hours?

In doing some research for a recent sermon, I found some interesting statistics. According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day (or 28 hours per week, or two months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube.

A very troubling statistic said that parents spend an average of 3.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children while the average child watches 1,680 minutes of television per week. A Newsweek article from 2005 said that an average American with Internet access spends three hours a day online. Wikipedia said that the average monthly usage of cell phones is 459 minutes, or about 91.8 hours per year.

Christians often complain that God and prayer have been pushed out of the schools, but in many cases are we doing the same things in our individual lives? Are we crowding out prayer, scripture study, and serving others with the busyness of modern life? Are we listening more to the media than to God? Are we taking time to be still and know that God is God?

What would it look like if we compared the amount of our devotional time with the amount of time we spend in front of the television and computer? How would the amount of time we spend in serving others compare to the amount of time we spend on ourselves trying to find happiness and peace? How would the amount of time we spend in worship inside the church compare with the amount of time we spend outside the church living out our Christian faith?

Jesus set an example of taking time to draw away from the crowds for prayer and renewal even if only for a short while. We need to do the same. In Matthew 11:28, we are told to “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

If we think we are too busy for God, this is not so. We are too busy not to have God in our lives. Only in His presence will we be able to find the wisdom to balance our own lives so that our time is spent in meaningful and satisfying ways. There are even studies that show that prayer and meditation time has a positive affect on our physical bodies.

I challenge you to take an inventory of your time. Does your time use reflect your Christianity? Are you spending quality time with your family and friends? Is God getting a fair share of your time and attention? How are you living out your Christian walk in serving others?  

As Matthew 25 tells us, “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”

Let’s find the time in the daily living of our lives to share the love of God that is in our hearts with others so that our time on this earth will have been well-spent and not foolishly wasted on things of lesser value. We have the time if we will just take the time.