Spare time is precious to me.
The time commitment of studying medicine has taught me to value any spare time I get to myself.
As I look to the future – I can only see things becoming busier with increasing demands, responsibilities and commitments.
I’m sure I’m not alone. It’s not just medical students – we are all busy in this fast-paced world.
Every day there is the tension of wrestling back time out of the day to spend with God – in prayer, in song, in studying the Bible.
Without distractions. Just you and God Almighty.
I’m sure others know this tension too.
Because of this, I have often wondered – “God – I have a desire to worship you extravagantly. I want to love you well, as you deserve. But you’ve put me in medicine. You know how time poor that has made me. Wouldn’t it have been better if you’d given me something less time-intensive, so that I would have more time for you?”
I could never make sense of how I could be giving God the love he deserves if I was spending far more hours at hospital than I was in distraction–less, intentional quiet time with him. Sometimes, this would make me feel disappointed in myself, that I wasn’t loving God in the manner he deserves. I sometimes felt I was failing in my desire to love him well.
A New Paradigm of Time
But today – I was reading The Gospel of Mark about the poor widow who donated what little money she had to God:
Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.
We can see Jesus was moved by someone giving money out of their monetary poverty.
Quantitatively the poor widow had given far less than the others… but Jesus recognised her offering as the most extravagant act of worship of all – he saw the heart motivations behind someone giving out of their poverty. And that mattered more to him than all the quantity of money in the world.
As I read, suddenly, a thought struck me.
If Jesus felt this way about the offering up of money – does he not feel the same away about the offering up of our time?
If he is moved by us giving to him out of monetary poverty, will he not be moved by us giving him our time out of our time poverty?
Will he not be moved by the person who gives their all in the workplace as if working for the Lord (Col 3:23), comes home late, lovingly attends to their family and has an early start the next day… and yet still sets aside time from their very limited supply to spend with God?
Just as he wasn’t concerned with the quantity of money (the widow only gave a few cents!), Jesus isn’t looking for a specific quantitative amount of time from us. He didn’t say “everyone must spent x amount of minutes with me each day.”
No, his real concern is the heart. A heart that gives out of what little is available reveals a heart fully in love with him. A heart that donates a million dollars may not necessarily reveal the same.
The Bible says people look at the outward appearance of actions “but God looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)
It is fairly commonplace to see people give if they have plenty. But it is a rare and beautiful thing to see people give when they themselves have so little. It shows a heart that extravagantly loves him, and has made God a priority. In the same way, it is easy for the man with no responsibilities and time aplenty to give some of his time to God – but it is difficult and deeply moving to God when we give time to him out of our time poverty.
What did Jesus do?
Jesus also knew what it was to have time poverty. Jesus had an extremely busy three years after finishing up at the carpentry shop at age thirty. He was extremely time poor – the crowds were constantly following him and asking of him (Mark 1:45). He was constantly on the move. Situations were always calling for his attention and time. Thus – even Jesus was exhausted at times! (John 4:6)
And yet – he always continued to set aside time for God. He knew how precious an offering it was and woke up early before dawn to pray! (Mark 1:35, Matthew 14:23). For Jesus – wrestling back time from his days to spend with God was a reflection of his heart full of love for his Father.
A Truth to Motivate Us To Give Our Time
The bottom line is this: God is deeply moved by my desire to give out of my time poverty. Let us let this truth be a powerful motivator to set aside time for him! We all have the opportunity to touch the heart of God each day.
Jesus is not asking the world: “will you give me x hours a day?”
He is asking: “will you give to me out of the little time you have?”
He is deeply moved by the heart that says I want to spend what little time I have with you. We can love God well even in the midst of a busy occupation if that’s what he has called us to.
But what of the person who says – my heart is dull – I don’t even have any desire to give God any of my time! We all feel this at times. We try to force our dull hearts to change by our own strength – to no avail. For what man can change his own heart? No, we must turn to a real, simple solution. We can ask God to change our hearts! There is hope for all of us in God’s promise to do a miracle inside us – to make our hearts fully alive in love for him:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
The glory of God is found in man fully alive.
Have a listen to this song by Jon Thurlow. I’ve make this song my prayer to God many times – a prayer for God to make my heart fully alive.
The love that You have for Jesus
Put it inside of me
Burn it on my heart like a seal, like a seal.
That in the famines of Your presence
Or in the floods of persecution
Or in the comfort of the culture, it’s still real, it’s still real
I just want a heart that is fully in love
It’s what You wanted in the garden
It’s what You wanted on the mountain
It’s what You wanted on the crossbeam
Just a heart that is fully in love
So I cry out for fire
Come set Your seal upon me
You’re the only One worthy
You’re the only One deserving