Summer vacation starts this week.
And, to be honest, I have mixed feelings about it.
I go through this every year. When I was a kid, I loved summer vacation. Nothing to do but sleep in, play video games, explore the creek, and blow up action figures with firecrackers.
As an adult, as soon as I don’t have anything to do, I get kind of queasy. I’m really afraid of “wasting” my day. I literally feel that if I haven’t accomplished anything by 10 am, the day is a wash, and I have failed as a human being.
The truth is I have plenty to do this summer. I won’t be wasting my time…well not all of it. But I’m afraid to waste time. Maybe you’re like that too. Maybe you’re like that and you just don’t know it. Because I think more and more Christians today feel like failures for the simple reason that they feel they’ve wasted their day.
I think I know why. See if any of these fit you.
Jesus hates wasted time.
Now that we’re adults, a lot of us get on a big guilt trip over how we spend out time. I think it carries over from our days in school. Back when we were students, we had to try to at least look like we were working, or the teacher would come over and get on our cases.
Now that we’re adults, we have to stay busy, or at least look really busy so Jesus won’t think we’re slacking. I think the goal is either to try to do enough that Jesus will like us, or stay busy enough that Jesus won’t bother us or give us more work because we’re already busy.
Either way, it’s no fun. I’ve met Christians who boast that they don’t take vacations. Some Christians feel guilty if they don’t do so many good deeds in a day, or tell so many people about Jesus by the end of the day.
Why? Because deep down, we think that Jesus doesn’t really like us. We think our biggest sin is wasting time, and we don’t think he died for the sin of wasted time. We think that now that we’ve been given the free gift of grace, we’d better get cracking on paying it back, or else there will be hell to pay. We wonder how much fun is too much for killjoy Jesus before he wants us to punch the clock again. And it all makes us feel like failures, because we all know there’s never enough time in the day to do everything we should.
No one else is wasting time.
It’s all in perception. When you ask a friend how they’ve been lately, they tell you the most exciting parts of their lives. They tell you how they sponsored some youth trip, or helped out a neighbor. They don’t tell you that the last three weeks solid, they came home from work and fell asleep while watching Dancing with the Stars with a half-eaten bologna sandwich on a paper plate. If people were honest, they’d tell you they don’t have a bit of time because they work too much, and have no energy when it’s all over to do anything else.
This is something where the internet isn’t too helpful. No one is going to tell you how much time they wasted on YouTube or Farmville. Not only is the internet a huge source of ways to waste time (hopefully your company’s time.) But as a blog-reader, you are exposed to a higher than average number of people: authors, pastors, speakers, people who have an above average amount of “free” time because they don’t work jobs with regular hours. These people are usually blogging about something awesome they will be doing in a third-world country next month. Chances are, if you write a blog, you aspire to write a book, quit your job, and use your “free” time to do something “truly” important too. But until then, everyone else seems to be accomplishing so much more, and you feel like a failure.
We want to matter.
Let’s say you have two friends, and I’m one of them (lucky you.) You ask your other, inferior friend what he’s been up to lately. He says he just worked, did some overtime, earned some extra money. No big deal, nothing to brag about.
You turn to me to ask what I’ve been doing. I tell you that on my morning prayer walk a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a nest of tiny, helpless birds that had fallen out of a tree. With no mother bird in sight, I managed to regurgitate my breakfast of scrambled eggs and nourish the little foundlings before taking them home and raising them as my own children until they were old enough to fly away. I named the birds Blinky, Sarah Jessica Parker, and PacMan.
Who sounds more important? Surely nursing baby birds to health is more important to God than writing computer programs in a cubicle. No matter that the birds, once old enough to fly went absolutely beserk in my house and one lodged himself deep in my heating duct, never to be freed. Plus I came down with bird flu from all that mouth to mouth feeding. It was still important.
The fact is, many of us rarely believe that what we’re doing with out lives is what God wants us to be doing. We want to do something that really blows everyone away. We want our eulogies to make everyone else feel like they’ve wasted their time. Just like we envy someone else’s money or someone’s car, we envy how another person is able to spend their time. We envy it like a status symbol, because we just can’t believe that what we’re doing is all that important. And we better get it in gear before Jesus finds out we’re not really working on the assignment, or we’re toast.
Have you wasted your time? Are you content with what you’re doing, or are you afraid that it isn’t important enough?