I remember the sessions from my high school days, a moment intended to create a self-evaluation of the use of my time (good), which ended in guilt (not-good).
“How many hours are there in a week?”
Twenty four each day, times seven days. One hundred sixty eight hours.
“How many of those hours do you spend sleeping?”
If I’m trying to get eight hours of sleep a night…fifty six hours.
“How many of those hours do you spend at school or work?”
About eight hours five days a week…forty hours, maybe more.
“How many of those hours do you spend doing extracurricular activities? . . . How many of those hours do you spend recreationally, doing something fun with friends?”
On and on it went, with the activities and responsibilities of my week slowly chipping away at the hours allotted to me each week.
And then of course came what was to be the climactic question: “How many hours a week do you spend dedicated for the Lord?”
Two hours at church on Sunday, two at church on Wednesday night, and maybe 30 minutes for devotions each morning…
My teenage self looked at the meager sum. Not even eight hours a week. It was minuscule compared to the total available hours I’d started with. What was I to do? Sleep less? Drop a lesson or a night out with friends? If Christ was supposed to be my top priority, and that priority was reflected in how I allocated my time (the clear point of the lesson), then what was I to do when He currently only occupied a sliver?
Fortunately, I can now tell this story with a note of humor, laughing at my young self and an unbalanced understanding of the Christian faith, but at the time, my heart, so keen on living a committed Christian life, was struck by guilt and despair.
The irony, of course, is that all that we do can be dedicated to the Lord, all can bring Him glory, all can be done with Him as the top priority. He doesn’t get only the sliver of our church activities, personal devotions, and explicitly spiritual or Christian ministry time. He gets all of it. I always think of a quote I once heard from Abraham Kuyper, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, ‘Mine!’” And this does not mean we drop all but explicitly "Christian things", but rather that we look for Christ in all we do. A dear monk named Brother Lawrence centuries ago spoke of how he “practiced God’s presence” while he washed pots and pans! [Learn more about Brother Lawrence in my post "Practice the Presence of God."]
Jesus' invitation to us, as to his first disciples, is "Come follow me." We follow Him into our offices, our homes, our game fields and studios, our times of religious devotion. In all of this, we look for His Way, we seek to follow the way that He taught us to live. In all of this, we keep our eyes and hearts open to see where He's already at work in our world, where He's inviting us to be His hands and feet, and where He's opening up doors of delight and fulfillment and Kingdom-living as we engage in this world He's created for us.