In our local shopping centre there are increasing numbers of empty shop spaces. Each week more close down as a result of the present financial situation of the country. When I commented on this to a person who is knowledgeable in finance he explained that the businesses that have failed are those who trade in something less than essential, in the area that is called ‘discretionary spending’. It was a new term to me, but was obvious really. The things that are, or you assess to be, essentials you find money to buy, so the shops stocking those things continue to trade. (I notice that mobile phone shops seem to be thriving, maybe because on average we own 2 phones per person in England…can that be essential?) However those shops selling things you deem to be extras, things you don’t desperately need, or feel you can do without, are the shops that have had to close down.
This caused me to think about time. After all we spend time just as much as we spend money. What, I wondered, do we find essential to spend our time on and what would be discretionary? What things do we feel we can leave out if time is short? This challenged me, because I suspect some of the things I’ve relegated to ‘discretionary’ should be in the ‘essential’ bracket, and vice versa. Which category does the ‘must-see’ TV programme come in? What about that visit to the dentist, enough time to sleep, prayer time, a walk in the sunshine, visiting that lonely neighbour, surfing the net for bargains, or making a cake?
In many of our lives time is at a premium, so decisions have to be made about how to spend the twenty four hours each day and the seven days each week. When there’s plenty of time more of the discretionary things can be included, but when time’s scarce we have to choose what to do. I wonder if we should do a check on how we spend our time. What is an essential use of time and what is discretionary in any given period or season of our lives? Maybe some things are thriving as we spend our time on them, although they aren’t really essential, and other things, which we aren’t spending time on, are suffering. This could cause something precious to close down. If we ask God for His view we may be surprised at how wrong we are about what’s essential and what’s discretionary.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the life You have given each one of us and the freedom we have to choose how we spend each precious day of our lives on earth. Help us, Lord, to understand with Your wisdom and not our own understanding what’s essential and how we should spend our time each day. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.
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