Friday, December 14, 2012

Finding Time for the Lord

When a Sunday School teacher asks the inevitable question, "Why do we sometimes forget to pray or read our scriptures?", someone inevitably answers, "I think we just get too busy and forget."  And then it leads to a discussion about how we need to slow down and make time for the important things in life. We talk about how life is too fast-paced, we are the generation of instant gratification, and we need to learn patience.  Does this sound familiar? The comments are all good.  We do need to make time to attend church, commune with the Lord, attend the temple, study our scriptures, go home teaching or visiting teaching, hold family home evening, fulfill our church callings, and raise the future generation in truth and righteousness!  But life is busy and time never slows down.  So how do we make time for the Lord?

My solution is to reverse the situation.  Instead of trying to find a few minutes to dedicate to the Lord after everything else is done, why don't we dedicate all our time each day to the Lord?  Then we could try to find a few minutes to spare playing Angry Birds or browsing Pinterest - because those are necessary breaks from reality at the appropriate time too. What if we make our lives so busy doing the important things that we do not have time for the unimportant things?  I used to think I was doing that, but now that I have a newborn again I realize just how much time I used to waste.  Now I am on my feet from sunup to sundown and sometimes in between.  My day goes better when I begin it with a prayer, asking the Lord to help me accomplish His will that day.  And it usually works, depending on how well I remember to rely on the Lord.

I have work enough to do,
Ere the sun goes down,
For myself and kindred too,
Ere the sun goes down:
Ev'ry idle whisper stilling
With a purpose firm and willing,
All my daily tasks fulfilling,
Ere the sun goes down.
(I Have Work Enough to Do, LDS Hymnbook, p. 244).

I believe part of the reason missionaries say their missions were "the best two years of their life" is because they spend each day in service dedicated to the Lord.  Even if we are not full-time missionaries, we can experience some of their joy when we spend each day building the kingdom in our own appointed way.

Imagine that we are so busy - putting in an honest day's work, cooking healthy meals, catching up with friends, playing with our kids, folding laundry, helping our neighbors, strengthening our bodies, educating our minds, teaching our fellowmen, recording family history, sharing our testimonies, communing with the Lord, serving in the temple, and studying our scriptures - that we have no time to waste on trivial things. "Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperancepatience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence" (D&C 4: 6).

I think we know what our personal time-wasting weaknesses are.  When I constantly check Facebook to see what my friends have posted in the last 10 minutes, it is time for me to shut down the computer and play with my children.  I love a good dystopian novel, but when I stay up late reading and I am crabby with my family the next day, I know my priorities were reversed. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said, "Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the internet, or reading books or magazines.  Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information.  But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it" (Good, Better, Best. October 2007).

I know when I spend my time in productive ways, serving the Lord by serving my family and my fellowmen, I feel happier inside.  I feel content.  I feel pleased with my work and my life.  When I become absorbed in the computer - even if it is typing a spiritual blog post - I feel disappointed with myself and anxious to make that time up to my kids.  But we cannot "make up" time - we can neither invent more time or go back in time.   Each day has exactly 1,440 minutes. Every minute we have is precious time we can either spend growing closer to the Lord or drawing away from Him.  Our lives are a precious gift from God.  My new resolution is to show my gratitude to Him by spending my minutes accomplishing His will, one day at a time.