What should I do with the extra time I have now in light of COVID19: This is a question I have been hearing from many these last weeks. For many people working from home, and those who unfortunately simply can’t go to work due to the governmental restrictions issued to quell the spread as quickly as possible, they are faced with more “idle time” than they have ever had.
Sure, you could binge-watch all kinds of shows on Netflix, which I know many people have been doing, but there are many other more life-giving things you could do with this nation-wide long-lasting “snow day” of sorts.
The current reality has created an opportunity for us to go deep with God and those closest to us. However, I know that the vast majority of people will not maximize this potential life-changing time because we lack the understanding and often the discipline to harness any time for the benefit of our soul.
The Apostle Paul gives us this sage advice in the letter he wrote to the church in Ephesus:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” ~Ephesians 5:15-16
Paul is making an assumption that he feels he needs to address. People often don’t make wise choices thereby missing divine opportunities that could change their life and bless a dark world.
In the book “Ordering Your Private World,“ author Gordon MacDonald writes about the LAW of UNSEIZED TIME. To his thesis, he relates that there are four laws about our extra time.
LAW 1: Unseized time flows toward my weakness.
LAW 2: Unseized time comes under the influence of the dominant people in my world.
LAW 3: Unseized time surrenders to the demands of all emergencies.
LAW 4: Unseized time gets invested in things that gain public acclamation.
Right now we are moving through a moment that we have never been in before. So not only are we struggling with the change, we are confused about the unknown waters our lives have drifted into. Since there is not a specific end date to all of this, most people will simply waste the gift of time they have been given, and will most likely regret it later.
LAW 1 states that unseized time flows toward my weakness. This is so important to understand. MacDonald knows that we move toward the things we use to medicate our pain, the things we do numb out from the tension, or the things that are time wasters when we have an excess.
What is the weakness in your life that you gravitate toward?
What things do you tend to use to fill available minutes or hours?
Becoming aware of this is half the battle, but not the whole battle. Knowing where your unseized time flows wakes you up to the shadow that would betray and reduce you, however, you don’t have to let that win the battle. As your awareness is ignited you realize that you now can choose differently, and think differently.
Here are some powerful quotes from MacDonald:
“If my private world is in order, it will be because I have made a daily determination to see time as God’s gift and worthy of careful investment.” (68)
“Disorganized Christians rarely enjoy intimacy with God. They certainly have intentions of pursuing that camaraderie, but it never quite gets established. No one has to tell them that time must be set aside for the purpose of Bible study and reflection, for intercession, for worship. They know all of that. They simply are not doing it. They excuse themselves, saying there is no time, but within their private worlds they know it is more a matter of organization and personal will than anything else.” (72)
“If my private world is in order, it will be because I have determined that every day will be for me a day of growth in knowledge and wisdom.” (96)
The second LAW which states: “Unseized time comes under the influence of the dominant people in my world,” is also true. I promise you that if you don’t have a plan for your time, someone else does! Other dominant people will begin influencing your time allocation. This is especially true if you are a people pleaser.
Our current crisis is an opportunity for you to seize your time and leverage it for spiritual growth in the garden of your soul. To this end, MacDonalds states: “If my private world is in order, it will be because I regularly choose to enlarge the spiritual center of my life.” (124)
Your spiritual garden needs a gardener and that is you! To tend your spiritual garden well you need to know your rhythms of maximum effectiveness, have good criteria for choosing how to use your time, and budget your time far in advance just like you would your money.
DANGER: When we allow our unseized time to flow towards our weakness we lose some valuable privileges such as:
- We will never learn to enjoy the eternal and infinite perspective on reality that we were created to have. Our powers of judgment will be substantially curtailed.
- If the spiritual center of our private world goes undisciplined, a second privilege we will lack will be a vital, life-giving friendship with Christ.
- A third privilege undisciplined spirits will lose is the fear of accountability to God.
- Letting the spiritual center fall into disrepair means, fourth, that we lose the awareness of our real size in comparison to the Creator.
- Finally, a neglected, disordered spiritual center usually means that we have little reserve or resolve for crisis moments such as failure, humiliation, suffering, the death of a loved one, or loneliness. (129-130)
A final thought…
One more reason many don’t use their unseized time to culture the spiritual garden of their soul is because they are afraid of intimacy with God. “What if God doesn’t like me if I show up?” “Ya know, God and I have this safe distance kind of relationship where I don’t ask too much of Him and He doesn’t ask too much of me, so we just kinda let it be.” Or, “If I enter stillness, silence and God’s presence, I am just simply afraid of what might percolate up from the deep waters of my life. Things I haven’t dealt with, things I am bitter about, things I have not forgiven, or even things I have wrongly done to others.”
If this is you, know that God is love, and His love will begin to dissipate the fears in your soul. He is longing and waiting for you to slip into His presence and receive His grace. There is no fear in love, for perfect love casts away all fear the Apostle John reminds us.
While our world is in COVID19 driven crisis, many have also been given a gift of time that can create the shalom we are longing to experience.
The choice is yours, don’t let your weakness win the current gift of extra time that sits before you.