Word for the Week
Short reflections on Bible passages, with a frontline focus...
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
How does your calendar look this week?
If it’s anything like mine, it’s crammed to bursting. Just the way I like it. I am the master of my to-do list, time lord of my patch of the galaxy.
And then I spot the deadline I’d put off. I start to get emails quicker than I can clear them. I’ve got that meeting that I could really do without. I’m sweating serotonin by lunchtime.
Am I going to have enough time for it all?
No, says the Teacher. You will never have enough time. Because time is not something you have. Which is a difficult truth for those of us who swim in hyperproductivity cultures. Time-management books from productivity gurus preach the idea that we can master our schedules and craft the life we want to live – if only we can get our time under control.
I lap that stuff up. I want to believe that I am on top of my life, that I really can do it all, be everywhere and never need to say ‘no’ to anyone. Which, inevitably, gives rise to a kind of anxiety I can’t seem to time-manage my way out of.
In contrast to the productivity gurus, the Teacher’s invitation is this: reframe your relationship to time entirely. Instead of managing it, learn to listen to time. And see if you can hear God’s voice in it.
So, look at your calendar again.
Do you see a tool through which to exert your mastery upon the world? Or might you see opportunities to respond to the needs of the place in which God has put you?
If it’s a time to plant, we might need to dig deep and work hard. If it’s time to mourn, we might need to mourn with those who are mourning, over lost loved ones or lost employments. If it’s time to be silent, we might need to listen to those who need to know they have been heard.
Of course, knowing what time it is and yielding to it in the right way requires wisdom that only God can grant. But, as James tells us, we only need to ask for it. If I can do that, I might learn to live in time rather than over it. To see interruptions on my calendar not as irritations, but as invitations. And to model a relationship to time that makes my neighbours curious.
What time is it on your frontline this week?
Head of Innovation, LICC
How would you describe your relationship to time, and how might The Teacher’s approach be a challenge or opportunity to you? Join in the conversation in the comments below.
Plus, join award-winning author and theologian James K A Smith at LICC on 3 November for a live Q&A on his new book How to Inhabit Time. The event will explore how being aware of God’s work across all of time changes the way we see the past and look forward to the future – and helps us live faithfully now.