The problem with time is that it passes.
I’m reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. In chapter nine of his book, he describes Christians who gave up their lives to service—men and women who sold all they had, left their homes, and worked with the poor and needy; or those who stayed put in their communities to better serve the people around them; or those who used their great gifts to incessantly point to God.
The thing that wracked me while reading these profiles (other than guilt) was a deep and pressing sense of time.
How much do I have left? Am I using my time well? How could I squeeze such selfless acts into my own life? Should I start a food bank in my free time after work?
In the words of Anna Nalick: “Life’s like an hourglass glued to the table. No one can find the rewind button now…”
In other similar moments of panic, I experience the same sort of urgent questions when I consider my own self-centered dreams: to be an author, to learn to draw and paint, to play an instrument, to exercise…occasionally. Complex calculations whizz through my head:
If I take a walk at 6:00 a.m., and read my Bible during breakfast, and write during my lunch break, then come straight home to practice guitar…
Filled with holy gusto, I set my alarm, lay out my running shoes and my Bible, and go to sleep with visions of self-actualization dancing in my head.
Eight hours later, the alarm goes off, a gentle melody at the fringes of my consciousness, and the morning walk is the first domino to fall. Next is my conviction to read my Bible—I read the news instead, or, if I’m being honest, scroll through BuzzFeed.
During lunch, I dutifully bring out my laptop, prepared to WRITE, only to be distracted by the TV playing ESPN in the breakroom. Defeated, I half-listen to commercials while pretending to tap away, foiled by a channel that I don’t even like to watch.
And of course, when I get home from work, it’s straight into bed I hop, where I immediately pull up my YouTube queue and spend the next two hours blissfully ensnared in vlogs, SFX makeup tutorials, and (what else?) BuzzFeed videos.
At the end of it all, I take stock of my day, and inevitably, I think: If I can’t even stick to my own stupid goals, how on earth will I ever do anything worthwhile in this life?
That is to say, how can I be a Francis Chan superstar if I’m addicted to YouTube?
I’m of two minds on this question. One half of me says: the Christian life (and any good life, I’d argue) is defined by sacrifices, and this includes time. If I want to make a difference, I have to give up my time. If I want to write books, I have to give up my time. If I want to live a life of purpose and meaning, I have to give up my time.
The other (and perhaps stronger) half of me says: I’M ONLY HUMAN. I sin, I fail, I mess up and fall. Sometimes I lose myself in mindless videos. Sometimes I dillydally on stupid websites when I could be doing so much more.
The key in all of this is walking that knife’s edge between the two halves (and of course, I’m nowhere near mastering this complex balancing act.)
To live a radical life, I must learn to give up my time—and also recognize that there are some days when I simply can’t, and that’s okay. Ultimately, my life must be defined by sacrifices, because time is a resource given to many.
In the words of the immortal Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, “Use it well.”