Life can be pretty manic in the silly season of winter into spring as I cram in as much to each week, so very grateful for the gift of Sabbath (Saturday or Monday for me) each week and Quiet Time each day to tune in to God’s wavelength.

There’s a great story of a young son catching sight of a colourful starfish, floating near to shore, which spurs me to sage efficiency of my time. Into the shallows the young boy bounded only to turn back to his perplexed dad, frustrated. With his star prize well within reach, the little lad turned away from it? He was torn between his eye’s desire and returning to shore empty handed, full of failure. This toing and froing between shore and starfish happened a few more times despite gentle parental pushing. Eventually, with tears streaming, the child cried, “But I can’t!” Then it dawned on dad, the wee three year old had both hands full of carefully selected & collected shells, which he wasn’t willing to release for a greater goal.

Identifying and releasing the trivial to embrace what’s critical and crucial requires focus and decisive determination. Snacking on the popcorn of little ‘to do’ lists can make us feel better at the time but rob us of a more important prize. It may mean that my garage is a mess, garden neglected, desk untidy and hair’s not always combed, but it’s a small price to pay for bigger goals (though my wife may not always agree).

Getting sucked into Video-games, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, or whatever draws our attention like a magnet can easily rob us of time which could be spent more wisely and fruitfully. Try taking a day each week without using your phone, watching the telly, playing videogames or whatever takes overly much of your time, and identify what’s more important. Don’t let me trick you into believing I’ve got all my ducks in a row, rather I’m reminding ‘Me’ of the need to spend my time more wisely.

So how and why do I find time to play 5-aside football and cycle once or twice each week? Because they are priorities, contributing to my mental & spiritual health. How do I manage to do all that I do as a husband, dad, papa, minister & friend? I am learning that if I’m too busy to carve out time to be quiet and pray, I’m too busy and need to reassess and see what shells I need to shed, IE. ‘Too busy not to pray!’ That place of quiet reflection where I allow my life to come under God’s microscope of loving care and concern is number one priority and key to the rest.

“Dear Lord, my life is full to overflowing, with not enough hours to do all I’d like. Help me to drop beautiful shells for the most excellent starfish. Amen.”