What do you believe about time? Is it a commodity? Something to be spent and wasted and saved? Or is it really a gift given to us by God? We are not in control of time but we can inhabit the time that God gives us without resorting to anxiety about getting everything done that we hope and plan. In today’s post, Jen Pollock Michel shares what she has learned about telling a better kind of time.

In case you missed a recent episode of Your Hope-Filled Perspective podcast with Jen, we talked about overcoming time anxiety and reimagining productivity. You won’t want to miss that interview if you’re looking for a Christian vision of time management and productivity.

Be sure to read to the end for a book giveaway!

(If there are affiliate links in this post, meaning, if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you)).

Telling a Better Kind of Time
Jen Pollock Michel

Our family has recently moved, and our new (old) house now echoes. Without rugs on the floors or curtains on the windows, with some rooms either completely empty or sparsely furnished, the house has a certain hollow sound.

It is strange that life can so suddenly be new. That you can’t recognize the sounds of your own house, that you can’t know how to operate the light switches, that you can’t reliably plan the route of morning errands. Which is closer: Home Depot, Crate and Barrel, or Walmart?

Nothing is efficient in this new life of ours. A week after we arrived, I was at Verizon with my mother for two and a half hours trying to get a cell phone. A day later, at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles, my husband and I learned we would have to restart the licensing process here in Ohio—including a road test now. And because we hadn’t properly imported our minivan when crossing the Canadian-American border, we needed to drive to Kentucky to plead for mercy and hopefully leave with a signed attestation that our car was paid for and met emissions standards.

(It was, and it did.)

All these are examples of the inefficiencies, not just of an international move, but of ordinary human life. Yet if we’re honest, inefficiency—in a world that chases productivity at break-neck speed—is intolerable. We want to get things done. We want to make our lives count. We certainly don’t want to be found waiting at the DMV on a Monday morning.

Our impatience with waiting—and our demand for efficiency—betray our mistaken beliefs about time. We think that time is a commodity, something to be spent and wasted and saved. But a Christian perspective on time begs us to see that time is first and foremost a gift, given to us by our Creator God.

From God’s good and generous hands we are given every moment called now.

As the Apostle James reminds in his letter, we’re not in control of time, not even able to reliably plan for tomorrow. “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time then vanishes,” (James 4:13, 14).

We learned this truth, of course, during our earliest pandemic days when normal life was overturned by the global crisis. Graduations were cancelled, weddings were postponed. Days blurred one into another, and tragically, people grew sick and died, reminding us that tomorrow is never a guarantee.

Where do we find hope in the midst of these sobering truths about time? James gives us a simple and yet profound answer. He says that God’s people must live in surrendered trust to his will—and his good time. Instead of presuming on tomorrow or next month or next year, we ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that,” (v. 15). This isn’t to say that planning is wrong, but it is to say that counting on time is a presumption we can’t exercise. It is to say that alone we must learn the ancient monastic wisdom of remembering that we die.

Living in time requires gratitude: for every gift of every new day. And it also requires humility: to recognize that only God can make sure and certain plans. This gives us a freedom to believe that our time is a gift received from God and rendered back to him in worship.

We won’t get everything done that we hope and plan, but that’s okay. Because God’s never in a hurry—and never out of time.

How has your view of time changed in the last few years? We’d love to hear in the comments below.

 

 

About Jen Pollock Michel

Jen Pollock Michel, authorJen Pollock Michel is an award-winning author and speaker. Her fifth book, In Good Time: Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace, released in December 2022. She holds a B.A. in French from Wheaton College, an M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University, and is working to complete an M.F.A from Seattle Pacific University. You can follow Jen on Twitter and Instagram @jenpmichel and subscribe to her Monday letters at jenpollockmichel.com. Jen lives in Cincinnati with her family.

Connect with Jen: Website / Instagram / Facebook / Twitter

 

Book Giveaway

In Good Time by Jen Pollock Michel book coverIn conjunction with this post and the podcast interview, Jen is giving away a free copy of her book, In Good Time: 8 Habits for Reimagining Productivity, Resisting Hurry, and Practicing Peace.

Leave a comment below sharing with us one thing you learned about your view of time and productivity and you will be entered into the contest for your chance to win a copy of her book.

You could also share this blog post on Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter then comment here to tell us where you shared it and you’ll also be entered into the drawing.

The winner will be selected at random and announced next Monday, January 23, 2023. Continental United States only.

 

What do you believe about time? Is it a commodity? Something to be spent and wasted and saved? Or is it really a gift given to us by God? We are not in control of time, but we can inhabit the time that God gives us without resorting to anxiety about getting everything done that we hope and plan.

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