Every day that God gives us has 24 hours in it, 1440 minutes and 86,400 seconds. How we use those precious moments should matter to us. They matter to God. There is a real sense in which he created the whole world, and entered into it himself as Jesus Christ, and suffered, died and rose again, so that you might enjoy the gift of this day.
If we were training for an elite athletics competition our coach would have determined how we were to spend each minute. There would be time for relaxation of course, because the human mind and body needs to relax to be able to operate at peak efficiency. But there would be no wasted time. An athlete training for an Olympic race has only one chance to get it right. And St Paul tells us that were are training to compete in an altogether more significant race, truly the race of our life.
One danger we can face in preparation for this spiritual contest, is to allow our own judgement to become the voice of the coach directing us, rather than listening to and obeying the advice of our spiritual fathers or the instructions in the writings of the great spiritual masters of our Orthodox Faith. When we guide ourselves we tend to either be to excessive in our spiritual effort and fall into despair when we cannot keep things going on our own strength, or more usually we treat ourselves with indulgence and do not make the most use of each day.
I don't want to talk about the sort of rule we should be following in our life just at the moment. But I'd like to continue thinking about how we are actually spending our time right now. We used a well known phrase in my last job - act on fact. That is what we need to be doing. The facts will show us what we are spending our time on.
Let me suggest this exercise. Create a spreadsheet or make a note on a little book or in a document on your computer. Write down all the things you have done for 24 hours. It is important to be fairly accurate and strict with yourself. If you are watching TV then distinguish between watching a serious programme and just sitting in front of the TV because you have nothing else to do. Distinguish between going to the shops to run some errands and spending time at the shops in an aimless manner. Distinguish between being asleep and just lying in bed. How much is spent playing games or using Apps or on Facebook? Try to map out your entire day for 24 hours.
We need to sleep. We need the refreshment of relaxation. We need to study and to work. This sort of calculation will show us how much time is spent in such necessary activities. But how much is left? How much is spent without purpose and how little is spent with God?
The one training to run in the Olympics will make everything else secondary to this purpose. And our own purpose must be to reach the goal of our race, to be so united with God in this life that we might be united with him in eternity. Everything else must be secondary to this purpose, as our Lord says, seek first the Kingdom of God.
So make this clear and detailed report of just one 24 hour period in your life. I will do the same. It seems to me that we must act on fact. How much time, such precious time, is wasted aimlessly. How much, or how little, do we spend with God and seeking him. This is a necessary beginning to transforming our life by the grace of the Holy Spirit. We must begin by honestly defining what we are doing with the gift of each day if we are to have a hope of spending this precious gift more wisely. May the Lord help us to judge ourselves.