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How much is enough?


Go ahead. Call me a sluggard. I'm not busier today than I ever was. And, I'm not feeling all that sub-human about it. When I approached retirement five years ago that's all I heard from the builder and boomer cohort who had already lapsed into their post-commuter lives. All they ever talked about was the new normal of hyper-, mega-, manic busy-ness. It seemed that everyone was afflicted with gerontophobia, you know, the fear of growing old, or chronophobia, the fear of squandering time. After some reflection and experience I learned it was worse than that. Most humans today, including many seniors, suffer from FOMO, the fear of missing out. It's one of the modern syndromes of the information age. Seniors don't want to miss anything either. As a result, the rocking chair has become the icon of the dark side. You can't function in fast, congested traffic while rocking life away on the porch.

Time may heal some wounds but our treatment of it creates a few too. One is our complaint that there's never enough of it. A friend told me their children were playing house. Around the breakfast table the child/dad said, "I'd cut the grass but there just isn't enough time. I wish God had made more". Oops. Another reminder of how children mimic their parents. Anyway, this perception about what sociologists call the poverty of time cuts into our lives in at least two ways. One, it is our primary excuse for not staying on-point with the important aspects of life. And, two, it has become a significant identity or esteem marker.

Health and Fitness coach Yokasta Schneider quoted an anonymous writer in her Huffington Post article last March. She wrote, “I don’t have enough time is the grown-up version of “the dog ate my homework”. Ouch. Sounds far-fetched, but it's true. Being under the gun has a way of re-engineering our priorities. The ticking clock shifts our attention from the genuinely important people, events, commitments, aspirations, and responsibilities to the screaming urgencies of the moment. When the genuinely significant items on our to-do list go undone, the trendy answer is "the dog ate my homework". Ha! Translation: "I don't have enough time".

In the same way, being busy, in a hurry, stressed for time, worn and weary, and other axioms of this time poverty generation have become status symbols or identity virtues for many humans. Silvia Belleza, a professor of marketing at Columbia Business School, in research about life and work, indicates that the workaholic lifestyle is a source of prestige in American culture. Their study revealed that being time-poor creates the perception that busy people possess certain human capital characteristics valued by the culture in general. It's like wearing a Rolex or driving a Maserati. I mean, you've got to admire someone who's always late. Reminds me of a stockbroker who always wore Reebok jogging shoes with his Armani suit. A not so subtle announcement that he was someone special because he was always on the run.

So, how much time is enough? Did God err when he set the lights in the heavens as signs for seasons, and for days, and for years? Was the calibration of time a mistake that God could remedy by stopping the sun more often? Well, you know my answer. With a biblical, Christian worldview it is emphatically "no". There is enough time. And, you know that too. The motions of a spinning world and lights in the sky were central to God's creation. They're not spinning out of control in these exponential times because God did an "oops" in calibrating them. We've learned the dynamics of pushing the envelop in every time category.

Consider Ecclesiastes 3 for a moment. The entire book is eternal truth about life apart from God. It is so down-to-earth and honest, and, yes, poetic. But, it's not mere poetry. Solomon wrote, under inspiration from above, "For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1, ESV). When I've felt that the clock was my master, I've been reminded that I need to sync my clock, as nearly as a mere human can do it, to God's. You see, It's About Time. And, according to God's Word, there's enough of it, "a time for every matter under heaven".

Wednesday is about wasted time. And, Friday, let's talk about due time.

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