Never Enough Time

Much as I’d like to claim that my long “furlough” from this blog was simply a matter of practicing what I preached (as per the last post), the truth is I did the opposite of what I preached and got caught up in a putting-out-fires approach to life. Strange how seldom important things and urgent things are the same things. Few people ever seem to “find time to” accomplish their big dreams; they’re too busy keeping the e-mailbox empty, picking up around the house, watching favorite TV programs, and doing the other things that come in droves demanding attention.

Human logic says that if we just get all those mundane tasks out of the way, we’ll then have all the time in the world to accomplish the things we always wanted to do. And as in so many other areas of life, human (fleshly) logic is usually wrong. Parkinson’s Law (“work expands to fill the time available for its completion”) was named after a different Parkinson than was Parkinson’s disease, but the former often leads to life effects evocative of the latter’s physical effects: loss of efficient performance; pain and frustration; constant twitching (or a mind that refuses to stop racing); inability to concentrate; and often, ultimately, major depression. Few things are more depressing than the realization that there really isn’t enough time in life–not if we insist on the right to do every single thing we want to do or feel we should do.

Many people’s reaction to this realization is to deny it by running all the faster–even in leisure time. There are the bird-watchers who are really “bird-getters”–whose reaction to a scarlet tanager in full glory is “we already saw one of those, we’ll never make 100 species today if you keep stopping to look at things.” There are the tourists who pull up beside the Grand Canyon, take eight minutes to shoot a quick panorama, then jump back into the car shouting, “C’mon, we’ve got three more parks to cover today. You can look at it here“–tapping the camera–“all you want after we get home.”

These are probably the same people who count the years to retirement “when I can finally do all the things I want to do,” only to drop dead from overwork before they get there or from frustration shortly afterwards.

Why do we assign greater value to “doing all we can” than to getting anything significant out of it? And why do we assign the first-things-first spots on our lists to things of limited significance, and offer the things of great significance whatever scraps of time we (might) have left over? Probably because it feeds human pride to cross things off a list–“Look what I’ve accomplished!”–and the briefer and more mundane we keep those things, the more we manage to cross off. However, as with the drug addict who once loved the “rush,” it eventually stops being enjoyable and becomes a miserable habit good only for fending off even greater pain, a habit we keep promising to break “someday.”

Have you indefinitely shelved your dreams and buried your God-given talents? Have you traded the opportunity to marvel at God’s creation for the cheap pleasure of bragging on those occasional aspects that seem an “accomplishment” to glimpse? Are you treating God Himself as an “around the corner” friend Whom there’ll be plenty of time to sit down with–someday?

This is the omnipotent God who gives us enough time to accomplish all the work He has for us to do. A surefire recipe for depression is to ignore His nudging and try to force our own agendas on life.

And a proven cure for depression is extra rest and extra time with God. Like many medicines and healthy diets, it rarely works as fast as we wish, and it can evoke fears of a bad taste in the mouth. But few of those who have experienced the miracle of eventual restoration would trade it for all the pride of accomplishment in the world.

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