During my first semester of college, we had to take a short college life introductory course. It was meant to help us transition from having our days pretty much mapped out in high school to managing our own schedules, assignments, and studying.
They gave us an assignment for this course that I still think about often. We were given a sheet of paper with 7 columns representing every day of the week. Down the left side of the columns, the time was written from about 6:00 am until 10:00 pm in 30-minute increments. Our task was to keep track of how we used our time and write it in the columns.
The purpose wasn’t to make a plan or to represent how we hoped to use our time; we were instructed only to observe. So, for the next week, I would return to the sheet every few hours. A little homework here, a little Netflix there, and probably a lengthy late-night conversation with a girl down the hall at some point.
I was immediately struck by how quickly my time was used up. And, as the assignment was meant to point out, I actually had a lot more time for schoolwork during the day that I wasn’t using. I had just been spending it on what was important to my 18-year-old self: relaxing and hanging out with my friends.
I’m currently in school again, but that’s not why this assignment still frequently comes to mind.
It’s because the visual representation of how my time was spent has stuck with me, and I wonder what it would look like today if I were to do the assignment again.
If someone were to follow me around and write down exactly how I spend my time, what would they say that I loved? Would they be able to pick out what’s important to me?
It’s a heavy question, and it almost always brings these verses to mind as well.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)
For where my time is spent, there will my heart be focused also.
For whatever I treasure, there my time will be most spent also.
I think that ‘time’ can be subbed into these verses because it is one of the most valuable treasures we have.
Since becoming a parent, I am all the more aware of just how quickly time is moving. It feels like I’m watching Elora grow bigger every day—and really, I am. She has changed so much in her first few months.
I’m taking pictures and videos, soaking up the moments of snuggling, talking to her whenever I get the chance, and just trying to drink it all in. I cherish her immensely, and the way I spend my time reflects that fact. If I were to fill out that chart again, it would be clear that I love her.
I want my time to reflect my love for God the same way.
By offering up numerous prayers of gratitude and worship. By studying the ways of Jesus. By serving others with His glory in mind.
By loving my husband and daughter well. By encouraging my friends and family. By praying for people I know are hurting, waiting, or grieving.
By using my talents the best way I know how. By telling people the good news that a new Kingdom has come and is coming.
I don’t want to miss out. I don’t want to waste an hour.
If someone were to take notes and fill out a new chart for me, I’d hope they would find me doing these things. I hope it would be obvious where my heart was.
I also know that, in reality, this would often not be the case.
I get distracted by wasting time or by worrying. I always will because I’m imperfect and my attention is easily pulled toward the here-and-now.
When that happens, though, there is wisdom in numbering my days and measuring the time.
So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (ESV)
That assignment gave me a valuable skill. I’ve continuously found it helpful to take a good look at how much time I’ve spent on something and see if it matches with how much I care about it. If there’s a big discrepancy, I need to reevaluate.
Whenever I take stock and reorient my time, my heart is reoriented as well.
And where my heart is, there my treasured hours are spent also.