Asbury United Methodist Church
Love - Share - Tell - Serve

June 14, 2017

I think today might be a good day to chat about time.           

            We all know the drill when it comes to time. We can’t buy time.

            We can’t erase time. We cannot control time.

            Time marches on! The only time we have is the present.

            Times runs out! The only time to make a change is now!

            And, according to good ol’ Jim Croce, we never have time to do the things we really want to do…once we find them.

            Poor old Jim sang of the desire to capture time in a bottle and bless his heart if that song wasn’t released shortly after his death from a plane crash near Natchitoches, Louisiana.  (And, try to spell Natchitoches for a brain twister today.)

            Talk about irony.  Kinda spooky.

            We could go on and on all day talking about time but, we don’t really have time to do that. A little pun there but the truth nonetheless.

            Author and pastor John Ortberg wrote a book some years ago entitled, When the Game Is Over It All Goes Back In The Box.   (Zondervan, 2015.)

            Citing the game of Monopoly that he used to play with his grandmother, Ortberg noted that the most important lesson he ever learned from the game was when the game is over it all goes back in the box!

            And, it does not take a rocket scientist to see a coffin as our final box when this game of life is over. So, the moral of this story is that each of us probably needs to take the concept of time more seriously.

            I for one really detest the notions of wasting time or killing time.

            If we were to estimate the longevity of our lives; and, given life’s uncertainties, it would sure enough be a whopper of an estimate, and then convert our longevity into seconds we could easily see life being dribbled away like a leaky faucet.

            And, consider how many of our leaky faucet seconds have been dribbled away dealing with anxiety, worry and thoughts of scarcity. There’s just got to be a better way!

            And, the better way is not multitasking!  Over the last two decades we have adopted that catchphrase multitasking. It’s fine and dandy to attempt to do multiple things all at once; except that it’s killing us.

            As we multitask what we are really attempting to do is live beyond the limits of time. The fly in the ointment is that we are finite beings attempting to live as the Infinite.

            And, a price is indeed paid for our obsession with computers, gadgets and electronic, personal devices. Hold on a minute. I need to check for texts. I’ll be right back!

            I’m back! Do you see what I mean? Multitasking has become an addiction.

            According to Clifford Nass, psychology professor at Stanford, humans are not designed to function this way. One attraction of smart technology is that it leads us to believe that we can get much more done by multitasking.

Clifford Nass says this is a myth. What we call multitasking is actually task switching and humans just are not equipped to do this well.

Each time we switch tasks, it usually takes us longer to do each task.  Eventually be bog down and our efficiency becomes severely diminished.

          “The research is almost unanimous, which is very rare in social science; and, it says that people who chronically multitask show an enormous range of deficits. They’re basically terrible at all sorts of cognitive tasks, including multitasking,” says Clifford Nass.

          Smart technology has been proven to lead to task switching. Rapid task switching creates a habit of not really paying full attention to anything.

            And, once this habit is fully ingrained, our ‘genesis’ capabilities fly out the window. In other words, our creativity is greatly hampered.

          The really good stuff of life that is present each moment gets missed…even that still, small voice of God.

            Somewhere around the fourth century a.d., Saint Augustine recorded in his book Confessions perhaps the very first written citing of the negative consequences of multitasking.

            Augustine had been called upon to deliver an inaugural speech for a newly appointed official and he was filled with resentment at having to handle this task.   He was swamped with work, he resented taking time out of his day to do this and he did not particularly like this official.

            On the way to the inauguration, Augustine noticed a homeless street person sitting under a shade tree. The man appeared to be inebriated at a very early hour of the day; and, Augustine confessed for all of us to read sixteen centuries later that he envied that guy!

            The street person was totally at peace while Augustine was filled with frustration and the sense of hurriedness that comes from having too much on one’s plate to successfully accomplish.

            I will say one more thing about multitasking and then move on. If we are not careful, all of our multitasking can make us reptilian.

            We can become coldhearted, numb, unfeeling, callous, pitiless and insensitive when we drift away from matters of the spirit. And, there’s not much that is cuddly about a turtle.

            OK, let’s look to some Scripture for help:

            “Be still before the Lord and patiently wait for him (Psalm 37:7 NIV).”

            “For God alone my soul waits in silence (Psalm 62:5 NIV).”

            “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:14 NIV).”

            “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10 NIV).”

            “Be still before the LORD, all mankind, because he has roused himself from his holy dwelling (Ezekiel 2:13 NIV).”

   At the end of the day, I think it pays us to focus upon what we were in fact created to do. We were created to focus fully upon only one thing at a time; and, it seems God needs to be at the top of that list.

   So, remember that when the game is over it all goes back into the box. Maybe this realization will help us keep us today.

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