That is a quote by a very wise person--a woman, as I recall--and for the life of me I can't recall who it was. (My apologies to the original author, but at least your point stuck with me, even if your name did not.) This is the way I want to view the hours and days that have been granted to me by the Lord. I want to live with an awareness that I am to invest and steward the gift of time, not squander or kill it. Yet I always seem to live with an insufficient amount of time. I am always saying things like, "I ran out of time to get that done" or "that meeting ran over." However, I have a friend who is also single and she's told me that she seems to have too much time on her hands--many empty hours spent alone. I assume that both of us need an adjustment.
Recently, I drew a typical calendar and began to fill up the days in block increments representing hours. I wanted to see what I was doing with my time. I filled in blocks for sleep, work, exercise, devotions, errands, standing meetings, service to others, commute time, and, yes, blogging. Not much free time was left. Then I began to analyze my time through the grid of relationships I see defined for me in Scripture (daughter, sister, aunt, employee, church member, etc.) and the activities I see that are priorities in Scripture and are worthy of reward (sharing the gospel, doing good works, practicing hospitality, and so forth). Was the tyranny of the urgent, or even just the selfish, dominating the important and the eternal? My calendar would let me know.
As I filled it in, I realized I had two missing areas: recreation and margin. Margin is the "breathing space" you have in your schedule that makes room for the needs and interruptions of others. These things always happen, so not to plan for them is unwise. It's also unkind, because we do need to make ourselves available for the needs of others. There should be at least a few people who know us well enough that they feel the freedom to call in the middle of the night if they have a need or problem.
Time for recreation or leisure is also a necessary component of our schedules. There are some who say this is too great a preoccupation for Americans. There are others who say we take too little time. I've read many articles that state Americans have the least amount of vacation time of any developed nation. That would be an accurate observation in my experience. My European and Australian friends can't believe most of us only get two weeks of leave and then we don't always take it. But rest is important. Rest has always been a biblical expression of humility and it is a promise for our futures in eternity.
A few years ago, I heard a message by Jeff Purswell titled "A Biblical Understanding of Leisure." What I remember so clearly is how he differentiated between God-glorifying recreation and mindless vegging out. The latter is an escape while the former is a purposeful effort to recharge by enjoying God's creation. I believe he asked us to consider what activities refresh our bodies, souls, and minds so that we will be sufficiently energized to keep serving God with joy and peace. It's so easy to flop on the sofa with a DVD, but do we feel recharged or further drained afterward?
For me, being near water makes me grateful to God; one of my favorite sports is kayaking. So that Sunday after hearing Jeff I headed to a lake near my house and paddled around for an hour or so. Each summer, I marvel at how these few hours paddling--the same amount of time as a movie--feel like a mini-vacation. I've been able to spread the cheer by teaching a few friends, too.
I'm fairly sure there are no eternal rewards for kayaking. But rest and recreation are necessary for fruitfulness in other areas of our lives. They are also expressions of our dependence on God. His creatures need time off, but He does not.
As summer comes to a close (at least in the Northern hemisphere), I hope you will be able to enjoy a few hours of rest and re-energizing leisure. For my friends in the Southern hemisphere, may you enjoy the quiet moments of the waning winter!
(My latest kayaking converts are Jane and Aida Alam, in the top picture, and Cleo Mercado, in the boat with me.)