We've got jobs. Families. Spouses. Friends. Church. Responsibilities to maintain. Netflix to binge. Social media to keep up. Households to maintain. Volunteer opportunities to fulfill. Sleep. Repeat.
Even our kids are busy. School. Sports. Music. Sports. Friends. Spring break. Sports. Repeat.
So it's not surprising to hear people frequently say, "I don't have time for that."
But I wonder. I wonder.
I wonder what our grammar hides. I wonder what our word choice hides. We all, after all, have a finite amount of time. We're all working with a 24/7 loop that we can't escape, so it seems normal, human, to just not have time.
But I wonder. I wonder what would happen if we started saying, "I don't value that." We do, after all, have a finite amount of time, but we also have some measure of control over how and where we spend our time.
For many people, even our constant busyness is a product of our choices, so when we say we don't have time, there's a sense in which we're right. We don't. But it's because we've chosen to structure our lives in such a way that we don't. We cleverly hide this from ourselves, though, by blaming our finitude, our lack of time.
Worse, we often don't have time because we're trying to fit an idolatrous paradigm of the good life. More money. Moving up the ladder. More power. More influence to do good. To be the change, to make the change we all want. To be clear, this is a reality just as much in church and ministry circles as anywhere else. So when we say, "I don't have time for that," it's just the tip of the iceberg. Often, what we're saying is, "I have to be God. I have to be sure everything turns out right. I have to impact the culture for Christ, to redeem and transform the world."
How would I change if I had to say, "I don't value that"? For me at least, it would make me more aware of the constant choices I'm making. Too often, we live life half-consciously, going through the motions of what our culture, or even our Christian subculture, says is most valuable. Saying "I don't value that" would force me to fess up to my unthinking conformity to the values that are embedded in the time-sucking forces at play in my daily life.
So what do we do?
Stop. Rest. Reconfigure. Be conscious of God's priorities and our own priorities--how they align, and how they don't.
In one sense, we're right--we don't have the time. We have to make time, or rather, to accept and properly value the time we're given. To say "yes" to God's kingdom, to say "yes" to living out the "one anothers" of the New Testament, we have to make time. We have to say "no" to the good things so that we can say "yes" to the best thing. In other words, we have to accept that we're not God and we're not responsible for everything.
Or, to say it more positively, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you." That's something worth making time for. That's something worth valuing.