Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Hours Frittered Away

“We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4, ESV).

I woke up this morning with a Saturday off and absolutely nothing I must do. It has probably been a year since I have seen such a day. My chief mental effort at this moment is directed toward using the day in such a way that it’s not wasted. As I work through this process, I look back on past days and see how much time I have “frittered away” with little good to come of it.

Dag Hammarskold, secretary general of the United Nations when I was quite young, kept a diary of thoughts and prayers, compiled in a book entitled Markings. When he was young, he wrote a short poem that hooks its barb in me when I look back on my life.

 Tomorrow we shall meet,
Death and I---
And he shall thrust his sword
Into one who is wide awake.

But in the meantime how grievous the memory
Of hours frittered away.

As healthcare professionals, we are often so busy with important matters and intense decision making that we may not pay attention to the way we spend our time away from work. How many of our hours are “frittered away?” How do we even define hours frittered away?

Trying to sort out whether there are ways that we, as Christians, should define our “down time,” I failed: how much television, how much game time, how much poker, how much time in service for others? We are all so different; I suspect God has different “best plans” for our down times. The best I can determine is that I will least waste my time off if I am deliberate about placing within each day some moments of value. Each day should contain, whether I am busy or not, moments of value:

1.      Relationship time, if focused with love and purpose. Relationship time is always of value if we focus ourselves on making other lives better.
2.      Growing time. Each of us have areas in our lives where we can improve in a way that fits God’s plan.
3.      Devotion time. We should never be too busy relaxing that we do not have time for Jesus.
4.      Bearing witness time. In all circumstances, let Jesus show through.

If I seek to place such moments of value within every day, it is very unlikely that I will look back in despair over “memory of hours frittered away.”

Dear God,
Let me place value in every day, whether working or resting.

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