There was a time when the standard Aussie greeting “How are you going mate?” got the standard response “good thanks mate”. Of course it was rarely true but that was what you were supposed to say. Not anymore. Now when we are asked “How are you going?” the most common response is: “I’m busy”. It’s true isn’t it? We are all busy.
In different places in the world there are different challenges and worries. Some people long for their next meal whilst others worry for their safety. The cliché in modern Sydney is that all we are worried about is real estate but I think real estate has even been eclipsed. As I talk to people the one thing everyone wants more of is: time. If I could just have a bit more time then I could fit everything in. At least that is what we say to ourselves.
How are we Christians to use our time? Should we feel busy? Should busyness burden us? These are important questions to ask busy Sydney Christians.
Matt Fuller’s book “Time for everything? How to be busy without feeling burdened” is a helpful reflection upon the busy lives of modern Western Christians. He starts out with ancient wisdom about life from Ecclesiastes:
There is an occasion for everything, and a time for every activity under heaven: 2 a time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to up root; 3 a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to tear down and a time to build; 4 a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing; 6 a time to search and a time to count as lost; a time to keep and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear and a time to sew; a time to be silent and a time to speak; 8 a time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Fuller points out that it is possible to read this poem negatively and to see time as relentless and unstoppable. It is also possible, he says, to read it positively – to see that God is in charge of all time and he has designed time in such a way that everything does have a good place.
The rest of Fuller’s book unpacks how we often take a negative view of time and busyness so that we end up feeling burdened. Instead, Fuller proposes a way to lift our eyes to see the good that there can be in having many opportunities. He also encourages us to use our time in accordance with God’s will for us in this age.
As I read through the book I was reminded of something the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 5:14-16. It is a verse that struck me at a time in my life when I had to make important decisions about what paths to take in life. Paul says:
15 Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise— 16 making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Fuller encourages us to make the best use of our time and suggests how we may do that without the burdens we often feel.
If you feel burdened by the scarcity of time then Fuller’s book will lift your eyes to a Gospel-shaped view of time and busyness. It’s an easy read and another helpful book from the Live Different series by the Good Book Company (with other familiar titles like ‘You can really grow’ and ‘Honest Evangelism’). Let me encourage you to find a copy to read.