This month I have been learning about the NOW- being present in the now. What am I doing right now in the transition and waiting? It is so easy to be living in the past or the future. We might say, "I will do this when my kids are older. Or if we had this, then I would do this." Or for me it might be when we have permissions or know what's next. We can just drift through life and wake up one day and realize that time has been wasted. How can we redeem the time even if we aren't in a place where we want to be? How can we decide what is important in the midst of the busy? Here are some of the lessons I am learning as I am trying to use my time well during this transition.
In a First 5 app wrap-up a few weeks ago, the ladies talked about the Golden Calf incident in Exodus. In this story, we see that impatience in waiting led to impractical decisions. They let the waiting get in the way of their relationship with God. They easily forgot how God had brought them to this place and cared for them so far. When we are waiting for the next thing, we want to know the answers sooner rather than later. Sometimes we rush ahead when God has something better if we would just wait. Two things that the ladies said about waiting stuck with me.
1. Make sure to do what you know to do until we know what else to do. For example, I know in any season, I need to be in God’s word, I need to love on my family, I need to reach out to those around me.
2. Look for God in the present. Keep our eyes and ears open to him. One thing that I loved about living in Central Asia was my walk to school each day and the view of the mountains. Somehow just seeing the majesty of his creation helped center me for the day. Where am I seeing God in my day? When I am seeing God in the NOW, I am less likely to be impatient with the timing of things or the irritations of daily life.
I am also asking myself, "What is important right now?" In his book called Essentialism, Greg McKeown writes about focus and figuring out what is Important right now. The author is not talking about the urgent such as going around and putting out fires but what is most important for me to do that hour, that day. For me, it may be doing something with my kids, making my family a nice supper, having coffee with a friend, taking time to spend with God or even exercising. More specifically in this season, I need to be healthy-physically, emotionally, and spiritually. My husband and I need to be praying and exploring next steps together. Lastly I need to connect with our friends and family here in the states that we are visiting. So as I look at my day, I am thinking about these things as I figure out how to spend my time. At this time, I am blessed with time and not as much to do but I want to use that time well. For me, I need to have a plan.
That's where another book I have been reading has been helpful. In her book, Loving God with All Your Mind, Elizabeth George has a chapter called "Scaling the Mountain of Worry". In this chapter, she suggests 5 guidelines to help use our time well.
1. Prepare: This might be taking time each morning to pray over our day and decide what God would want us to do. It could even be having a meal plan or schedule that helps us keep on track. I love the quote below from her book. As a mom, I know that morning is not always ideal for our time with God, but the important thing is finding time to realign our life to what God wants.
"We, who so easily fall into the trap of other people's plans for us or give in to "the tyranny of the urgent" without a second thought, can learn from Christ's example. In His quiet time alone with God, before the sun rose, in the stillness of time before daybreak, Jesus focused on the new day. And He let that focus shape His plans for the day. When we don't take time alone with God, you and I endanger our relationship with God, our health, and our service to others." (p.79)2. Plan Ahead: What needs to be done and how can I break those tasks into smaller more doable tasks? This could be a big project such as decluttering your house where you break the task up into categories or rooms. Or it could be a to do list that helps you make sure to get all those little things done such as paying the bills or taking back library books.
3. Pray: Take time to give God our day and all that goes with it. Tell him our plan for the day with a heart ready for him to adjust it to his plan. Writer and pastor Ray Ortlund has some good advice about praying over our day.
"I like to start out the morning covering my whole day by prayer... I take out my appointment book and pray through the hours. I pray for everyone I am scheduled to see... I pray for the unscheduled ones I will bump into. I've found that if I pray over my interruptions and get them squarely under God's sovereign control, they don't irritate me. I realize that they are part of God's plan." (p. 86)4. Proceed: Just do it. Keep taking next steps and doing what's next.
5. Trust God to Provide: It is always amazing how God can take a crazy day and turn it into something beautiful.
These guidelines not only help us focus on what is important but help us not worry about tomorrow. How do you go about planning your day? In this season, what are you needing to focus on? How can I pray for you in your journey?