The Trouble with Leisure

coffee-cup-and-computer.jpgI have *no idea* where this week went.  My in-laws are arriving tomorrow night from England, we are having a birthday/dedication party *at our house* on Sunday, and I have a to-do list a mile long.  (I should tell you, because you are probably concerned that I am taking the time to blog about this, that today has been a *much* better day, and my to-do list is a lot shorter now, so I am pausing to reflect on what I have learned from all this. )

I knew all week that I would have today – *really* have today because my step-mom has the big girls all day so I can get things done – to clean, shop, do laundry, tie up some loose ends on eBay, and generally scurry around being productive, but I told myself I would *not* leave all of that for today.  Can I tell you, honestly and truly, what I have spent most of my ‘free’ time on this week?  Playing on the internet.   Yes, I’m going to call it playing.  True, some of it has been constructive: I’ve worked some eBay listings and revived my blog.  Some of it was edifying: I’ve been spending some time here and a little here.  Some of it was even for Trevor, who wanted my suggestions for a theme for his new blog.  I could probably build a pretty convincing case for how usefully I spend my time online, but I know (and more importantly, God knows) that *most* of it has been pure leisure. Entertainment.  Playing.

‘Well, what’s wrong with that?’  you might ask.   Sometimes, I convince myself absolutely nothing.  My babies are fed and clothed and happily playing/sleeping/eating lunch, I’ve managed to plan dinner/empty the dishwasher/do a load of laundry… why shouldn’t I have some ‘Me time’?   Well, here’s why. First of all, Ephesians 5 says this: “15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Hmmm… the best use of my time?  As with so many things in the Christian walk, this is not a question of “Am I allowed to do this?”  but rather a question of, “Is this the best thing for me to be doing right now?  the most pleasing to the Lord?”  I don’t believe it is a sin for me to spend time on the internet, getting to know other moms and developing relationships and learning about how to be a better mom, but there sure are better ways I could spend my time (especially when my home is messy and my two-year-old is holding a book at me and saying very urgently, “Mommy-read-to-ME, read-to-ME, read-to-MEEE”).

Even more than that, this passage struck me this week at my Bible study on Thursday morning (if there were a website for that, I’d be linking to it left and right!)

“13 If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the Lord honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; 14 then you shall take delight in the Lord, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (italics mine)

This heart attitude should be present not only in regard to the sabbath, but every day and in everything we do.  And here’s the clincher:  I *know* it’s true.  When I (occasionally manage to) put down my own desires and focus on the things of the Lord and on the work that he has for me to do, it really does bring about the result God says it will (delighting in Him).  On the days when I wake up and start my day off in prayer and in His word, I continue to seek after the Lord and use my time well throughout the day.  But some a lot of most days I wake up, and the very first thing I want to do is get my computer on.  On those days, my longing for leisure time has become an idol in my heart.  Ugh.  Conviction is just no fun sometimes.

Now of course, the flip side to this is that God has created good things for us to enjoy.  I believe that relationships (yes, even online ones) are a gift from God to be enjoyed and used to His glory, but when anything, *anything*, starts to take His rightful place in my heart, it is time to put that thing back in its place.

Now, back to my to-do list…

One thought on “The Trouble with Leisure

  1. Hmmm…it’s a balance, huh? There are some things we HAVE to do for ourselves, but at the same time, everything should be prioritized, too.

    Thanks for a thoughtful post!

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