When you pause for breath, you might notice that the days have become weeks, the weeks have become months, and a year down the line you have not really made any significant progress. The books you bought with enthusiasm are lining up on the shelves, still in mint condition. The friends you vowed to spend time with are still wondering if you will ever slow down long enough to find out how they really are. And, even worse, the time you spend talking to God and reading his Word is taken in snatched moments (if at all), with one eye on the clock and the other half closed.
Things can get particularly difficult when the stakes are high. How often when it comes to exam times do we put relationships on hold so that we can focus on ourselves, our exams and our stress? Jim Paul gives practical advice on how to break the mould in 'Stressbusters'. Coming from a different perspective, Tom Hale argues the case for an ethical use of time and money in the developing world .
When we are too preoccupied or too tired, there is little chance of deepening a relationship with our heavenly Father. As Bill Hybels asks in his book Too busy not to pray, 'Where does the still, small voice of God fit into our hectic lives? When do we allow him to lead and guide and correct and affirm? And if this seldom or never happens, how can we lead truly authentic Christian lives?' Jesus provides us with an example to follow. Despite the huge pressures on his time, not least from physically and spiritually needy people, he frequently withdrew from the crowds in order to pray (Lk 5:15-16). Time with his Father was his first priority.
If we have put our faith in Jesus then we can enjoy a new life with God and look forward to a wonderful future in heaven. However, we also have a responsibility now to share this good news with those who are perishing. Paul urges the Ephesians to 'redeem the time' (Eph 5:16, KJV) that remains. If our diaries are too full to fit in eternal priorities, then we must reorganise our schedule around God's concerns, instead of allowing these priorities to be compromised. We need to ask humbly for the Spirit's help in doing this.
'Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.' (Eph 5:15-16)