Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:16-17
I used to think that making good use of my time for God meant being busy, filling every minute of every day with some activity. And I was good at it! I worked full-time as a family doctor, was involved with my family, and helped out at church. Performance-based Christianity at it’s best!!
And, honestly, there’s something very comfortable with that kind of life. As long as I was busy, I figured I must be pleasing God. After all, we are “created for good works”, even if we aren’t saved by those works. This was reinforced by what I read about being a “Christian woman”. If I was just organized enough, I could have a perfect house, perfect kids, and perfect schedule. And isn’t that what Christianity is all about?
Ummmm, no. In the last few years, I have had a lot more time to think about how I should “number my days aright”. OK, to be honest, I’ve been pretty frustrated. I can’t do the “performance Christianity” the way that I used to, and I end up feeling downright useless. Just about the time I think I’m past my need to “do” things, something happens (like a week-long headache) to remind me that I still see myself as valuable by what I do. And my counselor and I go through the discussions yet once again. But, each time, we get a little deeper and I have a little more understanding of how to “be” with God instead of only “doing” for God.
I kind of feel like Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (the book, not the movie – I haven’t seen the movie). Eustace is turned into a dragon by “sleeping on a dragon’s hoard [of treasure] with dragonish thoughts in his heart.” He meets Aslan and is led to a garden with a well where he (Eustace) wants to get in the water. Aslan tells Eustace that he must undress first. So, Eustace scratched off his skin (like a snake sheds its skin) three times, but still can’t get rid of it. Aslan tells Eustace that he (Aslan) must do it for him. Eustace tells Edmund, “I was afraid of his claws, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it. The very first tear that he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.” I’ve been trying to figure out how to live, but only when I let God tear away all the layers of sin and wrong-thinking will I become what God wants. But those layers are very thick. I’ve got lots of years of bad habits, sinful behavior, and downright incorrect theology that needs to get discarded. God changing me hurts, but yet feels good at the same time.
This week-long headache has gotten me – again – to think about how I am using my time. My feelings of being useless – for my family, for the kingdom of God, for myself – have all come to the surface again.
How should I use my time? I’m not able to be “busy” anymore, and I’m more and more convinced that we are not called to be “busy” for God and try to do everything, but, rather, to be obedient in whatever God puts in front of us.
What has God put in front of me? A husband who needs to be loved. Two wonderful children who need to be loved and taught and guided. A few good friends to share life with.
I hate these headaches – because they’re painful for me, but also because they make life harder for the rest of the family. But, I’m grateful that God is tearing off that thick skin of performance-based religion to reveal my genuine self who wants to love God in whatever way He puts in front of me. And, each time we deal with this, I am closer to that “heart of wisdom”.