This is a question that each of us must ask ourselves at the beginning of each day, each week, each month, each year and especially now while we are still breathing. We don’t want to experience the devastating results of getting to the end only to realize that we could have, should have, would have if only…
The one thing that a day, week, month, year and a life all have in common is that once it is gone…it’s gone. We may spend all of our money but we can usually make more. Time, however, does not work that way. Once it is spent it is gone forever.
The other day I got up early with some realistic expectations to have my quiet time with the Lord, do my exercise routine and then knock out a list of chores that needed to be done. At the end of the day not only had I not made a dent in my list but the only exercise I got was moving my jaws up and down. Worse than that…my quiet time had gotten interrupted and I just couldn’t seem to get back to it.
You see, a friend had called just to chat, and then I spent too much time with another who stopped by uninvited to ask my opinion on a relational issue. Then there was a book on my coffee table that grabbed my attention. I simply did not practice a disciplined life.
I’ve heard people say that what I did wasn’t sinful, but in reality God expects all of us to exercise self-control and to be responsible. So often it is just easier and a whole lot more fun to not do that, so we entertain anything that comes along that offers some kind of temporal reward.
I could have let the answering machine pick up my friend’s call and scheduled a more conducive time with my drop by visitor. I could have even designated the coffee table book to be my indulgent reward once I finished my daily priorities.
I actually thought about I Corinthians 9:24-27. Paul said, “24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
A runner has to be disciplined in all things if he hopes to get the prize. Distractions come and when they do Paul choose to beat his body into submission so he didn’t lose the race.
Many readers want to live a disciplined life but lack wisdom about how to stay focused or how to deal with distractions when they come along. The following is a visual strategy that can help one get focused.
Picture a clear gallon jar that contains 4 large balls, 6 medium balls and is also filled with sand. This jar could represent a day, week, month, year, or your entire life but for our purposes today it will represent your typical day.
The large balls inside the jar represent the most vital things that need to be accomplished while the medium balls represent other important task. For example the balls in my life are typically as follows:
- Read the Word
- Prepare breakfast/eat
- House chores: laundry, dishes, vacuum
- Prepare dinner/eat
- Family time
- Friend time
Anything and everything else is considered sand.
When I put the sand into the jar first, however, I don’t have room enough for the balls. That is what happened the other day when I didn’t practice self-control. None of the vital or important things got accomplished.
Experiencing this type of day may not result in real serious consequences every time but if our weeks, months, and years are spent like that we would be talking about some critical consequences. Self-discipline or self-control is required by God. So running the race means to exercise self-control daily in order to finish well with Him.
If you are one who needs help finding order for your day use the gallon jar example. And if you would still have difficulty keeping the sand out before you put the balls in place then you may consider reading my book, “Character Blocks”. It addresses disciplinary issues by demonstrating some strategic steps to take when correction is necessary. Click on “BOOKS” on the homepage of this website to order your copy today.