In the book of Ecclesiastes, the third chapter opens with the words “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven” (NIV). What has happened to our understanding of the fact that the Lord GOD, who made heaven and earth, wants us to enjoy His creation. I have become painfully reminded that since the 1980’s, the decade of materialism, we have lost our ability to notice and appreciate many of the gifts given by the Lord. We have bought into the lie that we must work harder, in order to get more stuff; to work faster and longer to avoid being overtaken by the ‘other guy’. No matter what we have accomplished, we’re being told that we should be striving for more.
Everyone has an e-mail address (some of you have several), cell phones (many people have more than one), call waiting, call forwarding, text messaging – there is no time that the average person should ever be out of reach. But is that reasonable? Even on vacations and short holiday trips, we carry our cell phones, laptops and utilize hotel computers to ensure that we don’t miss anything important. I’ve noticed that many churches have posted signs asking members to turn off cell phones and pagers before entering the sanctuary. Worship time should be a point where we let everything else go, and focus solely on the Lord.
Now, while I do appreciate the benefits of our advanced technology, I can’t help but question our dependence on it. Because e-mail is so convenient, we don’t seem to converse face-to-face or write letters to friends any longer. We find ourselves too busy to sit in our yards so we put a picture of a garden on the computer screensaver. I am concerned that we are allowing our lives to be consumed by the ever present drive for MORE – the next raise, a bigger house, more luxurious car, the newest gadgets. Having the desire for a better lifestyle is not the problem. Our spending so much time and effort on gaining these material things, when we don’t even have the time to enjoy them because we are continually working for more, is the problem.
We have all seen ads and commercials where a woman is drinking instant soup at her desk while working because she can’t take time for lunch. Somehow, we have accepted the notion that we should be constantly working, even to the point where a real lunch break is no longer acceptable. We carry paperwork home at night and try to do it while helping our kids with their homework. We read books and articles while watching television so the time is not wasted. I have even heard people say that sleeping is not a good use of their time. Does this make any sense at all? Of course not – but we are seriously putting our health and our quality of life at risk as we continue on this treadmill. If we cannot slow down enough to connect with family members and friends, what do we really value as a culture?
I challenge you to take a risk and focus on one thing at a time. Let go of that immense “to do” list you carry around in your head. Look around and really focus on something that the Lord has put in your life. It may be your child, a beautiful view outside your window, or a lovely piece of music playing on your stereo. Just slow down, take a deep breath, really see, hear, and touch what is near. And before you get back to work, remember to thank the Lord for His wonderful creation and all that He has provided for you.