I Don't Have Time for That in 2018

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“You must be so busy!”

I wish I had an hour of Merry Maid Service and a venti peppermint mocha for every time I heard that.

Yes, life is full for a mom of five. My lists are long and my demands many. But the activity of my mind, more than my tasks, stretches me thin and consumes my time. Clutter and cobwebs in my living room are nothing compared to the mess in my frontal lobe.

You know what eats up a lot of time and emotional energy? Sinful, selfish thinking. But God delights to shine light on these old faith-depleting, time-guzzling, sinful habits so he can set me free.

To walk in this freedom, I took time to make two lists: one for the year behind, and another for the year ahead. With God’s help, I planned to exit 2017 with a list of ways I no longer want to spend my time and enter 2018 with a list of ways where I believe God wants me to spend more of my time.

I’m happy to share some of these with you. But but I warn you, they’re not pretty. They’re humbling. But I hope that you will be able to relate and join my resolve to pursue, in God’s strength, a renewed mind and a redeemed schedule.

I don’t have time to maintain regrets.

A line in John Mark McMillan’s song, “How He Loves,” says it well: “I don't have time to maintain these regrets when I think about the way he loves us.”

I have my regrets for the things I’ve done: decisions I’ve made, habits I’ve formed, and hurtful comments I had no business making. But I also regret the things I haven’t done: words withheld, encouragement silenced, thanks forgotten, and words of life I thought but never delivered. I carry regret for not serving, not reaching out. Mistakes and missed opportunities haunt me. I am guilty. So are you.

So was Paul. He had his regrets. He once violently persecuted and tried to destroy the church (Galatians 1:13). He previously trusted in his heritage and religious works to make him righteous before God (Philippians 3:4-6).

But Paul encountered God and was radically changed. He no longer had time for his regrets. He counted all his past errors and sins as rubbish compared to knowing Christ. He sought to forget what lay behind him and strained forward to what lay ahead. (Philippians 3:7-13).

It’s good to review our regrets, briefly. We should name them and allow conviction to rapidly launch confession and repentance. The Spirit helps us flee sin, and in Jesus we are forgiven and made pure. His fresh, sweet, holy presence invades our minds so our headspace, where foul guilt and shame once camped, no longer echoes with accusation. Regrets vacate an and again we find space to think rightly.

How can I describe adequately the effect of God’s love? His love is all-powerful, intensely personal, and life-changing. His love is expressed in the shed blood of Jesus who died and rose again, our ruling, reigning Messiah-King. When we experience God’s love and hear him call us son, daughter, friend, beloved, our minds are forever changed. Jesus cancels our debt, sets us free, and cleanses our consciences. We have no time to maintain our regrets when we know we are loved by Jesus.

I don’t have time to entertain vain thoughts.

Podcasts, books, news, music, movies, and social media barrage me. But the drama in my head dwarfs the stream of outside stories. I notice my inner dialogue obsessing on unnecessary topics and fearful suspicions. I make assumptions of others, almost without realizing it, and soon I imagine judgments they are making of me. My mental spinning forms familiar ruts, sucking time and preventing worthy pursuits.

I must consciously turn a corner. I must walk with vigilant discernment, not dull apathy. It's high time I call these assumptions false, these assertions unfounded, those ideas fraudulent. Enough! I refuse to allow my mind to be hijacked, my relationships sabotaged, my time wasted. I declare, it’s a new day.

Today I want to keep my eyes enthralled with Christ’s beauty, my ears attuned to his truth, my heart enraptured with his love. I want to renew my minds every day with the best love story ever. And I pray that we will encourage one another in this fight. May we choose truth and charity, relinquish control, and slay our prideful posture so prone to evaluate others. We are dead to sin and alive to Christ (Romans 6:11). We submit to God, the sole righteous Judge whose mercy triumphs over the judgement our souls deserves. Hallelujah! Because we are set free we can happily extend mercy as well.

We don’t have time for vain thoughts. We guard our time for “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely” and commendable and excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8).

I don’t have time to sustain pain.

I have been hurt by others. You have too. Years later words and deeds still sting, don’t they? But then to make matters worse, we inflict added pain on ourselves (and others) by rehearsing old offenses. Ain’t nobody got time for that!

We are victims no longer. We can move forward, whole in Christ, and say with certainty, “I am loved. Healing is mine, now in part, one day in full. I can forgive because I am forgiven. I will not recount sins committed, mine or others. Jesus solved the equation by the great exchange of my sin for his righteousness. I gain balm when grief seems greater, my bitterness is subtracted. Mercy, peace, and love are multiplied to me.

Together as the body of Christ, we divide and carry one another's’ burdens, seek unity, count gifts, invest encouragement, bank on future grace, and compound our joy. The Father gives us grace upon grace, double blessings, and kingdom expansion. And the pain? Jesus bears it for us, and prepares for us an eternal weight of glory (2 Corinthians 4:17).

So as another year begins, I’m erasing certain nagging quotes from my mind — the ones I’ve imagined, embellished, and taken out of context, along with the motives I’ve assigned. I’m shredding incriminating evidence and dropping charges. I am learning from Jesus’ dying example: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). And admit often neither do I.

I don’t have time to sustain pain when I set my mind on love.

Lord, help us make time for love in 2018.

Father, too often and for too long our minds have been distracted by trivial things and snared by sin. Forgive us and set us free. Renew our minds and redeem our time. Prayer, praise, thanks — may these fill our thoughts. Saturate us with Scripture as we meditate on it day and night. Spirit, reveal the Trinity’s loving disposition toward us. Increase our pleasure in you! Give us your heart and thoughts for others. Increase our love for them! Help us move out from our private imaginations, past our fears, beyond our good intentions. With your help and power, we will freely give our time and thoughtfully exercise your gifts. Make us a people who have the mind of Christ, who treasure and adorn your love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

pam bloom bio pic 2

Pam Bloom is a Minneapolis homemaker, happily married for nearly 30 years to her high school crush Jon, mom to two adult children and three teens. She has served in a variety of capacities since her family joined SGC in Y2K.