"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." -Moses, in a prayer to God (Psalms 90:12)
When I awake in the morning, the first voice that I hear is the voice of the alarm clock blaring. The alarm clock’s sole purpose of existence is to yell at me until I get out of the bed. Yet, there are many other voices calling out to me as well. There is the voice of my job that calls on me to show up and produce for society. There is the voice of my cellphone which is connected to social media, text messaging, etc. that serves as another conduit for many other voices. There is the voice of appointments, meetings, etc. The voices scream until they are heard. And if not heard, they scream louder.
In my time of reflection yesterday morning, I was brought to a place of asking myself, “Am I giving myself away to the right voices?” That is, am I devoting my time to things of importance and significance instead of wasting precious time. This comes after nearly 6 years of extreme busyness.
This is also a concern because I have many responsibilities and obligations that demand equal attention. Naturally, I am in a place where I must choose what voices need answered first. Clearly, there are many voices that we all hear every day. No matter our occupation, social status, etc., we all have voices calling out to us. The voices of our world are impossible to escape. However, we must and cannot give ourselves away to every voice. To do so is dangerous.
The danger is that if we give in to every voice, we miss many opportunities of spiritual blessing that the Lord has for us if we had heeded the right ones. If we spend too much time answering insignificant voices instead of prioritizing and answering the right ones, we will find ourselves chasing our tails and accomplishing nothing spiritually significant in this life. What a tragedy to heed the wrong voices and leave the world accomplishing nothing of spiritual value.
Everybody has daily voices crying out for their attention but we must use discernment and choose what voices need our most attention.
It is clear that, in today’s world, the majority of us have busy lives: full-time jobs, school activities, sports, reunions, family 'get-togethers,' etc. All of these “voices” cry out for our undivided attention but only God is omnipresent (He is everywhere, all the time). Since we cannot be everywhere all the time, like God, we are placed in a position to choose what we will give ourselves away to. That is, what voices we are take heed to. Let me say this clearly and abruptly: we cannot answer every voice no matter how much we want to.
If we attempt to give ourselves away to every single voice, we will find ourselves in a place called 'burn-out.' Those who have crashed and burned can hardly answer any voice and are now ineffective for any voice crying out to them. Therefore, we must focus on the spiritually significant voices. On the other hand, if we decide we are not going to listen to any voice but our own selfish one, we are headed to a place of loneliness and spiritual dryness. To listen to no voice but our own is to create a personal spiritual atmosphere where we are the only one that exists. Considering God created us for relationships, this is not spiritually healthy and leads to misery.
Consider the following when sifting through the daily voices calling out to us:
1. If I knew I was going to die tomorrow, what voices would I move to the top of my to-do list?
Certain and approaching death has spiritually awakening effect on us. I realize this may be hard to hear for the over-achievers out there but not every voice needs our attention. An easy way to sift through the voices is imagining that tomorrow is our last day of life here on earth. Suddenly, the voices become subject to categories: what voice crying out to me is of most importance at this time?
Imagining our imminent death creates an launchpad for us to begin to prioritize what voices we will give ourselves to. If faced with death, suddenly, that little girl begging for our attention that calls us “daddy,” is more important than watching the game. That little voice cries out for attention while dad is watching people he doesn’t even know work diligently to make a air covered in pigskin cross a white line. Would the voice of that pig-skinned layered ball be more important than that little voice attempting to climb into our lap if tomorrow was your last day? Of course not!
We must sift through the voices coming at us to prioritize and heed those of most importance. An easy rule is that out of the voices coming at us, it is the voice of people that are of most importance. Those people created in the image of God have a voice of greater importance than the voice that cries for us to waste time watching sports or playing video games.
2. Would the Lord be pleased with the voices I am giving myself away to?
If we took an hour to look at our life in self-reflection, would we determine that the Lord is pleased with the voices we are giving ourselves away to? How about the voice that tells us that sleep is more important than taking our children to Sunday School? Sunday School is a place where our children can receive the gospel of Jesus Christ and learn about things of spiritual, eternal value. They have a chance to learn about the spiritual world where Almighty God dwells and how He works in this one. Yet, by giving in to the voice of sleep, our children are deprived of that teaching.
How about the voice that calls us to pour ourselves into our job so much that we have completely stopped attending church? How about the voice that calls us to put school activities before service to the Lord? How about the voice that causes us to spend every resource we have on fleshly entertainment instead of on the kingdom of God?
Any voice that calls us to place anything above service to God is a dangerous voice.
3. Am I turning off any voices that are inherently sinful?
There are voices out there that cry to us that obviously are sinful. Our world runs on lustful advertisement to generate money. Therefore, our world is saturated with ungodly images and sounds that appeal to the carnal nature to produce that money. These voices stimulating our senses awaken the old man within us from the grave. A important part of sifting these voices involves trashing the voices that are wicked and sinful.
Apostle Paul tells us to “flee youthful lusts”(2 Timothy 2:22) and to take every though captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). When these voices come at us, it is our spiritual responsibility to wage spiritual warfare and cut that voice out by the roots. We are cut them off radically and ruthlessly.
The voices coming at us scream for our attention but for our own spiritual benefit, we should strive to discern the spiritually significant voices and heed to the ones of most significance.
Time is too short and precious.
Therefore, let us spend our time giving ourselves to voices that of most spiritual benefit to ourselves and others around us for the glory of Christ.