By Pastor Paula Burchill

                After our offerings are received in worship, we say a prayer that often has words about how all that we have from God—our selves, our time and our possessions, we are giving back to God.  It has gotten me thinking about those things and how we tend to view them in our culture.

                By our “selves” I mean our talents and our lives, and of course our possessions are money and stuff.  Most of us tend to think that if we work hard enough we can get more money and more talented or skillful at something.  With some work we believe we can also get healthier.  Time, though, I would venture to guess we all think we don’t have enough of it.

                I suppose it is having a senior this year—because it is hitting me how everything is the “last.”  The last first day of school, the last football game, the last holidays.  And it makes me panic and get worried.  And sometimes all I can think about is the limited amount of time I have left with Erik.

                When I pray that prayer after offering, I really believe that all that I have comes from God.  God has given me my possessions and my talents and I try to share them as much as I can.  But I find I’m stingy with my time.  And I don’t know that I think of time as a gift from God, because lately it feels like a burden and that there is never enough and I resent that I don’t have more of it.

                I wonder how that makes God feel?

                In many ways time is the great equalizer.  We don’t all have the same amount of money or talents or health, but we all have 24 hours each day. Of course, we don’t all get the same amount of days on this earth, but none of us knows how much we will have. 

                I’m noticing that there seems to be a sneaky way that the world teaches us to value being busy—and to value saying we don’t have enough time.  Because after all, if you’re really busy, particularly in the service of making more money or getting more talented or healthy, aren’t those the people we tend to admire the most?  Many of us even wear our busyness as a badge of honor. 

                But what if we started seeing time as a gift from God.  What if we could find ways to approach each day in awe and reverence for the 24 hours we have been given?

                This summer on sabbatical, I feel one of my biggest “accomplishments” was that I worked to just appreciate each day—rather than worrying about not having enough time.  As a result the summer felt spacious and full and it was such a gift—even though it was a busy summer.

                I have been working on paying more attention to my complaints about not having enough time.  Can I cut down on my Netflix?  Can I be ok with just sitting and talking and listening with my friends and family rather than thinking I need to get another thing crossed off of my list?   Do I need to cut back on some of my commitments?    Can I remember to see time as a gift rather than a burden?

                Because it is a gift.  And when I pay attention to how I use the gift of time and when I’m aware of the gift of time, time feels much more spacious, and I feel much more free. 

                So that is my encouragement to you this week.  Live into the time you have.  Notice how you spend your time.  Then breathe.  Reach out to those around you.  See your time as the gift from God that it is.

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