We live in such a fast-paced world, that everybody we meet seems busy doing something or trying to get somewhere. Most of us barely have time for ourselves let alone for others and certainly not for God. We are so busy working, trying to succeed and please everybody around us that we are left with little if any time to please God.
As a young surgeon, time is of utmost importance to me; so is my relationship with God. Thus, I ensure that I find ways to squeeze everything that is important to me into the day, without forgetting time for prayer and God.
St. Francis de Sales writes,
“Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.”
While this may seem like quite the paradox, what he is trying to say is that, without God, we can do nothing (John 15:5)
Jesus was definitely much busier and in much more demand than you and I. He had people thronging after him in the hope of a healing, miracle or just to be fed. Barely did he finish preaching in one place when he was required to go elsewhere. Yet, in the midst of the madness of his life, he always found time to be by himself in prayer. (c.f Mark 1:35)
If we minutely scrutinise our lives, we will realise that we make time for everything that we feel is important. We make time to watch TV, go for movies, go out with friends for dinner, play games at the mall etc, but time for God doesn’t seem to be on that list probably because we don’t realise its importance.
Is Christ an inconvenient ad-on to our already packed schedule?
I would like to share four ideas on how we can begin to tame our calendars and lead fuller, richer, integrated Christian lives.
- Have our priorities in place
Our first priority above everything else should be God. St. Matthew makes it so clear when he writes,
“Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.”
We should be serving Christ first, family second, and work should be third on our list of life priorities. Not the other way around.
When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives. Our love of the Lord will govern the claims for our affection, the demands on our time, the interests we pursue, and the order of our priorities. (Ezra Benson)
I belong to a prayer group and for the last 7 years, I have made it a priority to attend my meetings every single week. Given the fact that I do have a lot of night duties, it involves making considerable sacrifices to keep that one day a week free. But serving God is a priority and I make sure that I make the time to do it.
Remember that we control our calendars; our calendars do not control us. Since we are the ones who enter things into our calendar, let’s start scheduling our work around Mass, prayer, adoration, prayer meetings and other spiritual things.
- Combine activities when possible
Since time is so short, we must try and make the best use of it by not wasting any time unnecessarily. One of the things I do on a regular basis is pray the rosary while driving the car to work. I am greatly inspired by St. John Paul the Great who writes,
“Do not be ashamed to recite the rosary while you walk along the streets to school, to the university, or to work, or as you commute by public transport.”
A few other suggestions would be: carry a spiritual book while waiting for an appointment, read Catholic websites like Aleteia.org during your lunch break which are unbelievably informative, talk to your spouse/kids/ parents about the faith while hanging out together, listen to Gospel music while driving the car etc.
- Remove the unnecessary and replace it with the necessary
I began to realise some time back that social media like Facebook which wasn’t really productive was taking up a lot of my time. I thus took the rather difficult decision to go off Facebook and I realised that over the last 4-5 months after giving it up, I have been able to use that time to read Scripture, pray more, go for adoration etc. Getting up early in the morning to pray and go for mass is another change that I have made to my schedule over the last few years.
Father Mike Schmitz writes,
“If I’m not willing to change my schedule so that I can spend time with Jesus then I’m not really a disciple of His.”
We need to reflect on things in our life that shift our focus away from God. St. Paul writes to the Colossians saying,
“Set your mind on things that are above”
Are we being distracted by social media, television, computer games? Try to kill the TV and social media and replace them with talking, praying, reading, or outdoor activities. Go to Confession and Eucharistic adoration together as a group or family. Want to start attending daily Mass more often? Start by giving up some sleep atleast one day besides Sunday to begin with.
- Know where we are going
All of the above ideas should help us on our journey to heaven. We are made for our heavenly home and not this world. Our busy lives and daily activities should lead us to this end. Are our lives ordered to this purpose or do we serve other priorities that are of this world and not as important?
Just like we have a planned agenda everyday of the week, our spiritual life needs planning too. We know that we want to get to heaven. Hence, we must invest in those things which will get us there.
It is very easy to get caught up in the busy schedule of our day to day life. After a while, we begin to settle into a monotonous routine and get very comfortable doing that. The thought of making sacrifices and taking the extra effort for God doesn’t seem all that important. Pope Benedict beautifully says,
“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Jesus desires that we find time for Him in the midst of the craziness of our lives. He will draw us closer to Himself if we surrender ourselves to Him and say:
“Lord, I find it very difficult to fit in time for you in my busy schedule. But I desire to spend more time with you. I ask you to please make a way and fill me with your grace.”
May the following words of St. John Paul the Great inspire us to find time for God and not let our busy schedules overwhelm us:
“It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”