Everyone really is made in the image of God but fallen in the same downward-spiral-way that man has always been tumbling towards. We bumble forward, making what we hope is progress, but in reality we are wasting so much time.
This is not a call to be more productive. It’s an effort to acknowledge time as the gift God gives us.
Don’t waste your time studying x, y, and z.
I keep telling my kids that, and the kids I tutor on Wednesdays.
They want to shout a hearty “Amen!” with their sideways and suspicious glances at me, the Proprietor of all Banal Studies in their eyes. They think I must be rebelling and at first they’re excited – she’s on our side – and then suspicious – what is going on? – and then they hear me out – I knew it was a trick.
You have x number of hours in a week to study. Don’t waste those hours with moping, complaining, distractions, or lifelessness.
I remember studying things that didn’t seem to apply to my life. I remember not having any context for that Personal Finance class (!) and not caring about the stock market game and not knowing how history would help my present or my future. I remember cramming for tests, acing tests, and promptly forgetting all traces of what might have been knowledge.
I remember wasting so much time.
I want to make those kids care about their time, but I can’t. So I’ll be a nagging reminder to them that the worst waste of time is the time you spend complaining about what must be done.
Sometimes I have to read a manual for some device that quit working or research how to stop the bugs from eating my garden or learn why the do-hickey keeps falling off the back of the sink’s plumbing and those things irritate me, because I feel like they are wasting my time.
Setting my mind to get the most of the things I study (because study doesn’t stop after your formal schooling and you’re still studying something, right?) is not a waste.
Applying myself to the task at hand is a God-honoring use of His time, whereas complaining about it is only implying there is something better I’m missing.
Don’t waste your time being sentimental.
Being sentimental means looking back at your life and wishing for a different time or place or person. It means holding on to something because of the feelings associated with it, even if that something is a hinderance to your present life.
I have two options when I look back on the good things: discontentment with present reality, or remembering in a way that enhances my life now.
Memory is a gift from God and also a command. Israel was told to remember God’s promises and to set up memorials to provoke their children to ask, “What do these stones mean to you?”. It was an opportunity to retell the story – we have a holy God who was good to us then, when He parted the waters and crossed us to our promised land. He’s good to us, still. Let’s remember that (Joshua 4:6).
Sentimentality is looking back on your slavery and Egypt and thinking but the food was so good, and this desert has nothing for us (Numbers 11:5).
Bring back the proofs that remind you who God is and who you are. Recall the gift of moments you want to last and continue to learn from them. Make your memory work for you, but don’t waste your time pining for another time or place.
God has given us time to know that He was good, He is good, and He will continue to be good. Let’s not miss the present by wasting it with complaining, or the past by being sentimental.