Sooner or later, we wake up one morning and realize we’re not in control of our lives. We abruptly realize that God is in control, and sometimes we don’t like what He allows to happen in our lives or in the world. That isn’t to say our decisions are not our own because they are. But we don’t see as far down the road as God does, don’t have His immense power, and can’t know the Why of everything:
- Why we didn’t get a better job after working our tails off to earn one
- Why U.S. politics have sunk to such a disgusting, disgraceful level
- Why sports figures with feet of clay get paid massive salaries that should go to those who teach the truth to our children in public schools (rather than atheistic lies about the founding of our nation and other edited “history”)
- Why a dear relative is allowed to die peacefully but others suffer in fear and pain for years
- Why abusive medieval societies still exist in the 21st century
- And much more.
What we can and need to be in control of is our time.
We will always have obligations that are mature responsibilities – fully our own or shared, as they may be – but we can’t allow others to delegate their responsibilities to us, unless there’s a really good reason. And the fact that they know how to delegate isn’t always sufficient. No one likes finding out they’ve been volunteered to do something when they already have duties that can’t be shirked. I’m not sure what happened to simple courtesy in this country but there isn’t much of it left.
We know when we accept a job that our employer is in control of at least 8 hours of our working days. On top of that are the commuting hours, plus a lunch hour where we can’t stray far from the office or wherever, so that we get back to work on time.
It helps to keep God first in our lives because He asked us not to put other gods ahead of him, like money, fancy houses and gas-guzzling vehicles. And when we put God first, then His help is available to us, as we honor our commitment to our employers and cease doing church and other volunteer work on our employer’s time, if that’s what we were doing.
Spouse and children come next in our priorities. Our employer is our third loyalty because he puts food on our table and helps provide a place to live. And last of all, volunteer activities. If we’re going to school, we usually have to fit that in before or after employment.
Being in control of our time covers a lot of territory. Those hours before and after work probably equal some pretty fun activities with our family or partner. But how many people still jump up from a meal to answer the phone? That’s if they haven’t carried the phone to the lunch or dinner table with them! How many people answer the phone or even make calls while driving in traffic? Most of the time, we need to lock the phone in the trunk if we’re that addicted to it or have no self-discipline to pull off into a parking area first.
Will the world end if you don’t pick up?
If the world ends while we’re ignoring a phone call, we’ll have far bigger issues to deal with! But as the California Highway Patrol said in their March 17 email broadcast this year, “Will the world end if you don’t answer it?” Thousands of people are killed each year by distracted drivers. Millions more are injured.
Even if it’s your latest high school crush and even if you’re not behind the wheel, let the caller wait. The last thing you need is to have a control freak demanding that he or she be the priority in your life. They’re not and likely never will be, so don’t give him or her that power over you. Your time belongs to you, your family, real friends, God, and people our Savior wants you to treat kindly. Guard it. Control it.
And if someone (even your sister-in-law) is too haughty to leave a message, you don’t need to talk to her anyway, not right that second. Maybe it’s too much of an assumption but you do return voice mail messages, right? But sister-in-law isn’t paying your phone bill. Now the exception is if it’s your parents or a guardian, answer the phone as soon as you can, just not while you’re driving.
You might not want to let Mom or anyone else get into the habit of calling you at all hours of the day or night. Give her an inch and she’ll take a mile, meaning she’ll still be nagging you when you’re 65 years old. In fact, you’ll be lucky if she doesn’t call you on your honeymoon. On the other hand, a phone call out of the blue indicates a disaster of some kind.
If you’re an introvert, you hate talking on the phone anyway. Your blood pressure shoots up and your day is ruined in many ways. But observant people would have figured that out early on and automatically leave a message for anything important.
The main thing is to get control of your time, so you can make the best use of it. We are here to enjoy life, not just suffer through it. That doesn’t mean “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die.” It doesn’t mean that at all. It does mean we should appreciate having a family. It means we soak up the beauty in the world while doing what we can to alleviate suffering and protect the world that is only on loan to us after all. And to do that, we need balance in our lives, including proper rest and control of our time.