I am struggling today. This isn’t a physical battle. It is however a battle for my mind.
Recently, a friend of mine decided it was time to move out of New York. He made that decision after watching the financial and mental burden the New York City and Long Island area have placed on its residents. He decided to make his family life better; leaving this area would be the best decision. So far, he has been right.
For years, I have dreamed of leaving New York and going to other places that have not only been more affordable but less stressful, a place where I can raise my kids without the pressures of having to work infinite hours and spend more time with them. I have dreamt of being able to sit outside at night and see the stars thinking about the wonders God has created in the heavens. Being able to go outside in the early morning hours and sit and spend time with God in the quietness of the outdoors. Listening to the calm breeze while pondering the greatness of the God I serve.
Unfortunately, this has not been my lot. I live in an area where busyness is just a way of life. Wake up, get dressed, get stuck in traffic, go to work for 9 to 10 hours per day, come home, help with the family, study then sleep and do it all over again the next day. The non-stop pressure builds and builds only for my body and mind to stop properly functioning causing me to sit back for a day to wonder why I don’t feel so well. This busyness causes less time with my family and more time going from one thing to the next. So you would think that it is a no-brainer for me to pick up my family, quit my job and leave, right?
Getting up and leaving suddenly is not as easy or logical as you may be thinking. Currently, I work at a job that I love. My coworkers and supervisors are great and are like family. What I do is interesting and never the same. Each day is a new adventure. It is a place that I have spent the last 15 years learning not just to love the work, but the people as well. Regularly I remember them in my prayers and hope that all of them one day come into the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, repent of their sins and live for Him.
In addition to that, I have a church family that I love as well. For most of my life, they have encouraged me, taught me, and disciplined me with love and care. They have prayed for my family, shown me their love through actions and have allowed me the pleasure and opportunity to try out my skills as one who preaches the Word of God. I have even had the pleasure to have a taste of heaven when my father and I served on the same Elder board at the same time. The first and last time that had ever happened in the history of our church. It has been a place that I can call not just home, but family.
More recently, I have begun to learn how to be a pastor at a local church on Long Island. Their pastor has been sick for some time and they have graciously allowed me to teach them, council them and learn what and how a church works, from the pastoral viewpoint. Over the past 7 months or so, they too have become an extended family for me.
So you may be asking, if your life is as good as you say it is, then what is the struggle? Why not just go on with life doing what you are doing and forget about those things which you do not have? These are great questions, but the complexity of life and the things of this life are not what I struggle with. Whether the house I live in is large or small or new or old, makes no difference for me. What matters to me is something that you and I lose every day…..time.
As I grow older and my kids become adults, I notice that time is fast-forwarding at light speed. My once little boy who made believe he read the Bible, is now learning to survive as an adult. The other little boy who wanted to help his daddy with everything, is now in a high school where he can try subjects out to discover what he loves and wants to do. In just a few short years both of them will be mainly on their own, living the lives they chisel out of their own masterpiece from their portion of life’s marble.
I have been watching friends of mine retire and begin living their lives as “free men” allowing them to do things with their family that previously, they could not do. They have gained time for their families, they have slowed down the clock a bit in order to focus on helping their children become adults.
Time is something we lose every second. Even as you have been reading this, time has slipped away into the eternal void of past lives. No more will those seconds or minutes be gained, but will become mostly forgotten and largely lost to the busyness of what this world has to offer. As quickly as time enters is as swiftly as it leaves.
My struggle with time has been for some time. How to make the best decisions with the limited time I have on this earth. During my mind’s battle for time, I have also learned that I long for something that I am not promised either. I contemplate and plan for a time not yet discovered, a time not promised nor experienced yet. We make plans for retirement (which I cannot do any time soon), we plan vacations, we even our meals, but are we sure that our next breath, the next second are promised?
Even with all of that, I hold onto the promise of the Good Shepherd who walks in the ways of His Father. My focus is not on what this life has to offer or the limited time I am here, but on the work that He has called me to. A life to help others and teach them to rely on Him. No matter if I work in the secular world, or inside a church, the gift of being able to teach others and help others learn about the love and completion of Jesus Christ is my calling. He gives me the strength, wisdom and patience to deal with those things, most don’t understand or care about. He allows me the ability to do time management and still allows me quality of time my family needs from me.
As I work this all out in my mind, I am praying for clarity and direction. I have learned from Jonah, that running away from this calling will only lead me to times of extreme trials and tribulations. I have learned from Peter and Paul that what we have here is only a fleeting memory and unimportant in the scheme of eternity. I have learned from Ruth that spending time with family is extremely important, so long as our focus is on God. I have learned from Job that all that I have here, including my children, are only things that are borrowed and can be taken away in the blinking of an eye. I have learned from David that crying out to God in my moments of struggle is where He wants me to be. I have learned from Jesus Christ that what I want is not what is best, but the direction of God is best even if the rest of the world thinks you’re crazy.
So pray for me and my family. Pray that we will make decisions, not based on desires, time or logic, but will make decisions based on what God is telling us. For those who know me and are reading this, I have not made any decisions and will not for some time, so don’t worry, I ain’t going anywhere. But one day, I will have to make some hard decisions, so I ask that when that time comes, whether it comes quickly or slowly, that we make the decisions based on His will for His Kingdom and not what we want because of our earthly sinful desires.
We thank you in advance for traveling with us and allowing me to express my struggles with you. God bless and encourage someone today.