What Deserves Your Time?
I know from personal experience: it’s tempting to give away every bit of your time if asked, reserving nothing for yourself to simply be present to God – or for God to lead you into unexpected places of generosity and blessing.
Over-giving our time can be a seductive habit, especially if we assume that others’ needs should always be satisfied before our own, or that their voice is always the voice of God. But renowned author and priest Henri Nouwen warns us about giving it all away. “God does not want you to destroy yourself,” he says:
“Exhaustion, burnout, and depression are not signs
that you are doing God’s will. God is gentle and
loving. God desires to give you a deep sense of
safety in God’s love. Once you have allowed yourself to
experience that love fully, you will be better
able to discern who you are being sent to in God’s name.”
Nouwen’s challenge fits closely with the Bible’s concept of shalom: wholeness, completeness, balance. It also connects to the art of becoming engaged with people, but not enmeshed: unable to distinguish our identity from that of others whom we care about.
I’ve been pondering Hebrews 4:12 recently. It says God’s Word is “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword,” and able to distinguish the difference between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, thoughts and intentions of the heart. Our sense of boundaries is a dull bludgeon in contrast to such finely tuned discernment! The only way we can figure out what deserves our time is to spend some time with God, asking for insight from this Living Word.
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