Years ago, I saw a poster with a phrase that has stuck with me. It said, “If you don’t have the time to do something right the first time, how will you ever find the time to do it over again?” It’s sort of funny, but it turns out that this cuts to the heart of a lot of the shortcuts we take in life.
We’re tempted to buy cheap shoes, or cheap toys, or cheap lawnmowers because, well, because they’re cheap. But then they break or wear out much sooner than we expected them to and we end up replacing them… over and over again. But after we’ve paid for the cheap thing three times, we realize that we would have been better off paying more for the better one. In the everyday rush to get from one thing to another, we often do the same thing when we choose between options that will get the job done quickly versus a better solution that takes a little longer. And almost as often, we regret that we didn’t choose the better solution while we’re doing it all over again.
But how we make these choices with televisions and lawnmowers should be different than how we make choices that have long lasting consequences. If we want to raise children that have a strong moral compass and positive values, it simply doesn’t pay to take shortcuts. And we see this play out in our spiritual lives as well. We thank God for the gift that our parents gave us by raising us in the church, teaching us scripture, and modeling biblical values, but that gift came at a price in time and commitment that many seem unwilling to pay.
But closer to home, we find this to be true of our own feelings of well-being and mental health. We wish that we could slow down and find a few moments of rest, but we say ‘yes’ to too many things, schedule our calendars from morning until dark seven days a week and find ourselves constantly tired and irritable. We wish that we could be closer to God and live a more spiritual life, but our hectic schedules only allow us to find our way to church once or twice a month, or maybe just a few times each year. As much as we might wish otherwise, some of the most important things can’t be rushed.
The cost of taking shortcuts is too high.
As addicting as social media might be, it just doesn’t work to build real friendship. Close friendships require that we spend time getting to know one another. There’s no way that you can finish one another’s sentences, know what someone else is thinking, or order their favorite food before they arrive at the restaurant if we haven’t spent lots of quality time in one another’s company.
We rob ourselves of that kind of intimacy with our friends when we try to take short-cuts. Likewise, we rob ourselves of the power, mystery, and majesty of Christmas by skipping the time that was set aside for repentance and reflection during Advent. If we truly want to find rest, draw closer to God, and to become more like Jesus, we need to make the time to invest in that relationship.
During this Christmas season, I hope that all of us will remember that God gave humanity a day of rest as a gift and not as a burden. God didn’t need to rest for one day each week, but the lesson was so important that he modeled it for us even at the creation of the world.
It is only when we make the time, when we are willing to pay the price of time and commitment, to our personal well-being, to our friends, and to our faith, that we finally discover…
…Peace on Earth.
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