Friday, November 29, 2013

Tithing my Time.

I've developed a problem in the last year or so.  I used to be a person who was prompt and organized, even after my kids were born.  And now...I'm not sure what's happened.  I just can't seem to pull it together.  We are late for almost everything.

It bothers me on several levels, but none more so than what it teaches my kids.  That it's ok to be late.  That we can make excuses.  That school, or church, or that kid's birthday party, or that dinner with friends isn't really that important, so we can be late.  Obviously, I don't actually speak those words to my boys.  But, what's that old saying?  They learn from the way we live, not the way we speak?  I may not have it verbatim, but the idea is true.  I can tell my kids all day long that they need to manage their time better. That when I say get dressed, I mean get dressed.  Now. Not in 45 minutes after you've played with lego, punched your brother, and rummaged through the fridge for a third breakfast.  I can tell them...but what does it really say to them when I'm still in my bathrobe, sipping coffee, and in no rush at all to get myself ready?

But, here's the thing: so often when we are battling with our kids about something or some issue, I find that  what's really happening is that the Lord is trying to work out that exact same thing in me.  In this case, it's my time.  How I use it.  How I manage the days, the hours, the minutes he's given me.  It goes far beyond being late (because, let's face it...something about having kids just slows us down). I believe it has more to do with how I tithe my time.

If you've grown up in church, you know about tithing money.  10% of your income goes FIRST to the Lord.  Not to visa or mastercard.  Not to the mortgage company or your landlord.  But to THE GOD WHO PROVIDES every need we have.  For Ryan and I, that's been a non-negotiable. Almost 11 years later and every pay check or bonus gets 10% (often times more) taken off the top and tithed to our local church.  It's almost mechanical now.  It's just part of our lives, part of our budget, part of how our household is run.  (Our boys also tithe when they make money from their chores.)

But a tithe on time?  Is this Biblical?  Is this hidden somewhere in Leviticus?  Is she making this up?  ...Well, yes and no.  I do not know of a scripture that says "thou shalt tithe 10% of your time to the Lord at 6 am each morning."  But, I also don't believe I'm making it up.  It's a concept I started thinking about last year when it became evident that I was struggling with how I managed my time.

Because, if you're a mom, let's be honest and say that many days are challenging when it comes to time.  You wake up early (and if you're lucky, it's a little before your kids, so you can have that coffee while it's still hot).  Then it's a mad rush to get breakfast made,  (do I feed them eggs, toast, and a yogurt parfait? Or homemade oatmeal?  Or should I whip up gluten-free, whole-grain, flaxseed pancakes?  Or do I throw cereal at them because it's easy and fast?  Cereal it is).  THEN it's time to get the kids dressed.  And if you live in my house, many mornings it's as if everything that can go wrong, will go wrong:  SETH!! What are you doing IN the toilet?  Ahh! Now you need a shower.  JACKSON!! Why are you coloring on yourself? Again? In permanent marker?  I hid those 2 months ago!  NOAH!! I know you're not actually doing anything wrong, but you're also doing nothing, which by default means you're doing something wrong because you're not dressed for school.  AM I THE ONLY SANE ONE IN THE HOUSE?

And then once your kids are dropped off at school or preschool, you have an exact amount of time in which to do your "out of the house errands".  This is only magnified if, like me, you have a baby or toddler that still naps.  In which case you have like 2-3 hours to go to that play date, have a coffee, go grocery shopping, and change the world. Then during nap time, you once again have to manage your time:  what do I do during this blissful time of peace when I am the only one awake in the house?  I'll work out! I'll do laundry that's been piling up for a week! I'll get dinner ready! I'll clean the floors! ...and then instead you end up falling asleep or (worse!) "quickly" checking your instagram and Facebook posts and then suddenly the kid is awake and its time to go get the other kids from school.  And then the dinner rush and then bedtime (best and worst part of the day) and then ... exhaustion.

I am tired just writing that.  And it's not even 8am. So, here's what I am getting at:  after far too many days like the ones above, and praying "Lord! There must be a better way.  I can't stand having so much time and yet so little,"  the Holy Spirit did what he does best:  He spoke to me and convicted me.  That my time is not my own.  That I needed to set aside a portion of "my" time to Him.

So, I started waking up at 5:15.  Because our youngest wakes up at 6, and I knew that while I hated to wake up that early and I was certainly still tired, it was all I had to give.  And I started looking for Scripture to back-up this thing that had sparked the whole tithing my time concept.  And here's 2 of the verses that stuck out to this non-Bible scholar:

"Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple.  If you do," says the Lord Almighty, "I will open the windows of heaven for you.  I will pour out a blessing so great you won't have enough room to take it in!  Try it!  Let me prove it to you! Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease.  Your grapes will not shrivel before they are ripe," says the Lord Almighty.  "Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight," says the Lord Almighty.  
Malachi 3:10-12

...I know this is talking about tithing food (in essence, their food was their money back then.)  But I felt that this could easily translate to my time.  To bring my time to Him and then he can do the things I can't during the day.  He can open my eyes to the needs around me.  He can bless me, not just for the sake of me being blessed, but so that I can be a blessing to others.  He will guard what I entrust to him (my time) and help me to manage it well so that it doesn't shrivel or escape from me.

"Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding.  Cry out for insight and understanding.  Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure.  Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord, and you will gain knowledge of God.  For the Lord grants wisdom!  From his mouth comes knowledge and understanding.  He grants a treasure of good sense to the godly.  He is their shield, protecting those who walk with integrity.  He guards the paths of justice and protects those who are faithful to him.  Then you will understand what is right, just and fair, and you will know how to find the right course of action every time.  For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy.  Wise planning will watch over you.  Understanding will keep you safe."  Proverbs 2:2-11

...This challenged me to keep a tight perspective on WHY I am waking up at 5:15 every morning. That to have wisdom, understanding, and insight, I need to LOOK for them.  That to carve out a portion of my day everyday and give it back to him, spend it with him, is not without purpose. It has results. Real, tangible results that affect how the rest of my day is spent.

And by LIVING out the way I hope my boys will behave, I pray that they catch onto not only how to manage their time, but that the BEST, FIRST, and MOST IMPORTANT thing they can do is give it back to their heavenly Father. To sit at his feet, learn from him, allow him to break them, build them, and become men after God's heart.