(Never) Enough Time

Are we enslaved to Time?  Must we march to its relentless rhythm, powerless as prisoners shuffling on and on under the watchful eye of such a dispassionate guard?

This week I ticked off milestones, one after another.  My six and eight-year-old daughters returned to school, growing up ever so slightly with every passing day.  We celebrated my husband’s birthday, and the year behind him flashes through our memory like a blur.  Today is the close of August, and already we’re planning for Christmas in my church’s staff meetings.  It’s no wonder Time feels like an all-powerful force, and I am but a grain of sand tossed in the relentless churning of its waves.  

I was standing beside the ocean, hands full of shark teeth, pondering the pull of time.  We had combed the sand for hours, searching until our backs hurt from leaning forward to get a better look at that tell-tale flash of black or pointy shard buried in the sand.   I marveled at the age of the items I held.  How many thousands of years ago did these teeth sink into their prey?  How big was the owner of that particular tooth?  In what seas did it swim?  What marvels did it see in the depths of the ocean?  

Is this what Time does?  Does it swallow up our livings and dyings, leaving behind only a fragment of what we once were?

At the beginning of the month, I declared August to be my Reset month.  I envisioned a month of soul searching and writing, of carving out time and space to prioritize what really matters, what my soul needs to pursue the wholeness God intended.  What really happened was an internal battle between what I longed to do, what I needed to do for my body and soul, and what I had to do for the daily stuff of life.  What this Reset month turned into was a reality check — a realization that the one thing holding me back from wholeness is the one thing that brings me the greatest amount of stress and sorrow and strife:

I never feel like I have enough time.

Not enough time for prayer.  Not enough time for play.  Not enough time for work.  Not enough time for family.  Not enough time for writing.  Not enough time for reading.  Not enough time for exercise.  Not enough time for friends.

Far from being a month of Rest, it was a month of Realization.  If I am to find wholeness, I need to reckon with Time.  I need to decide if I will allow myself to be a slave to Time, or if I can work out another arrangement altogether.

When God commanded the Israelites to observe the Sabbath, a full day of rest from all labor, God also offered them the rationale for why this practice is so important.  Remember that you were slaves, God told them.  Remember that you were once enslaved in Egypt, you were once trapped in another’s agenda, another’s will, another’s values. Remember that you were once only allowed to care about bricks, bricks, bricks, and more bricks.  But you are now free, God told them.  So take a day of rest, a day away from work and responsibilities, and remember that you are not bound to this world’s way of measuring up any longer.  I set you free.

Some measure life by the passing of Time.  Perhaps a life is better measured by the freedom with which we pass through Time.

Meandering up and down that beach hunting for shark’s teeth with my family was nothing like the daily life I lead.  All day long, all week long, time is money, and time that isn’t productive is time that is wasted.  Every moment has a cost, every moments needs a purpose, every moment exists for bricks, bricks, bricks, and more bricks.  But there, on the beach, it was different.  There was no sense of time, only a sacred sense of rightness, a quiet joy in just being alive.  And so it was, with the fossilized weight of Time in my hand, I heard that still, small Voice speak the truth I most needed to hear, the truth I am holding onto and carrying with me into the craziness of the year to come: Remember that I set you free.

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