If I Could Save Time In A Bottle…
“If I could save time in a bottle…” in other words… “I just don’t have the time.”
How often do we respond with this phrase when we are met with an opportunity or situation? And how many of those times is that phrase carried with a guilty or slighted tone? Dare to ask, Is this statement ever true? I’m not saying anyone is irresponsible or lazy either, I’m just talking specifically how we view time in those moments. The reality is we all have the same amount of time each day. Sometimes it feels faster, sometimes it slowly drips away. We all have seasons of life where certain responsibilities require a smaller or larger commitment of time. But the amount of time in a day, week, month, year, it’s always the same. I especially know in the economic and cultural times we are in, there is even more pressure to work longer and harder to keep up. Totally understandable.
I think it’s actually to our detriment that we live in this “hustle” culture because it puts false values on the ways we can “spend” our time. That gets paired with the temptations that come when we are told we can “save” time with a, b, or c, which often ends up “costing” us in other significant ways. This begs the question, is the most efficient way always the way of Jesus? My mind, and the way our society is structured tells me the answer is yes. But Jesus’ life (God in flesh) often tells of a different way.
If we analyze the moments with Jesus captured in scripture, there is no doubt we find plenty of inefficiencies. Jesus going out of his way to talk to the woman at the well, Jesus healing on the sabbath, Jesus going to solitude to pray, Jesus sleeping through the storm, Jesus spending time with people instead of running to his destination, and so on… And yet, I can’t find anywhere where Jesus shows frustration toward others or himself at the thought of “wasting my time.” Jesus didn’t live as though time was just a resource, he lived as though it was a place. Jesus saw past the clock to see where he was in the world, the people around him, and through the Spirit’s guidance was able to be present in a way that seems to transcend our understanding of time.
When we talk about sacrificing time (or anything) for God, we are not talking about the exchange of commodities. This is not a purchasing or selling of goods and services. That is our market culture talking, not the God who’s image we bear.
So, when we say the phrase “I don’t have the time” in response to our need to embody patience or having to say “no” to ourselves or others, it can subconsciously feel as though we’ve been slighted or feel guilty that time has somehow escaped our grasp. I think a shift in perspective is needed.
Instead of asking what’s the most efficient, profitable, or self-fulfilling use of our time, we could ask “what is the most fruitful, loving, and Christlike way to be present in this time.” This is a good time for a reminder that loving and caring for ourselves of course matters too (Jesus also ate, hung with friends, and took naps.) So, sometimes this will mean saying yes and sometimes this will mean saying no. You know, simple… (sarcasm)…
But it’s true, shifting our understanding of time can help us reject the hustle culture we live in, where whole identities are developed around this unending quest to control time so can gain or achieve more, more, and more.
When we see time as a place in the way Jesus does, it becomes easier to value and appreciate each moment, and even each part of creation within those moments, in ways that help us experience the love of God and engage freely in loving like God, without carrying feelings of either guilt or slight.
God is not asking us for more of our stuff. God is offering us a deeper relationship. Healthy relationships always value presence over stuff. May God help us follow the Way.