Big changes are hard to come by in our lives because all of us live in ditches that we’ve created. Our habits of consuming, relating, working, eating, praying (or not praying) becoming increasingly entrenched with each passing day. As a result real change, it seems, is hard to come by. People join gyms and don’t go to them, sign up for diet plans and don’t follow them, declare their intention to overhaul their spiritual life and yet remain stuck in the ditch. This is discouraging for lots of people because to try and then fail means double disappointment, and the ditch feels deeper than ever.
Sometimes we’re thinking too big. Yes, there are major moments in life when we find ourselves in the arena, in the midst of a crisis that will alter the course of everything. But the quality of our lives is determined less by the big changes and more by what we do with five free minutes. What could you do with a few minutes that would help change your life?
1. Clean something – I’ve used the five-minute principle over the past month to clean two drawers out in my office, and to go through all my clothes, giving away the stuff that I don’t wear anymore. These fifteen minutes feel great because they’re steps towards simplicity, and I’m increasingly convinced that simplicity is of great value.
2. Read your Bible – If you’ve no idea where to start, then start with Proverbs; or, if you attend the church I lead, start with Matthew, because that’s where I’ll be teaching from this fall. I’ll share with you that I’ve felt the need for wisdom over these past months, more than ever, and as a result, I’m spending some time each morning reading a chapter from Proverbs, whatever chapter happens to match the date (there are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so that’s easy!)
3. Exercise – I’ve been doing physical therapy for a nagging ski injury from last winter, and I’m amazed at how powerfully some simple exercises have helped bring a sense of well being to my body. Everyone could benefit from some simple exercises, maybe like these. Five minutes well used.
4. Breathe and Pray – I’ve finished a meeting and it’s been hard for some reason. I’ve a few minutes before the next one. I’ll take a few deep, slow, breaths, and in my breathing, pray as well, utilizing a little trick that I learned from Amy Carmichael, the great missionary to India. She taught me to appropriate the very character quality that I need, thanking Jesus that He’s given it to me by praying for it with faith and confidence. Thus, when I’m weary, I’ll pray aloud as I inhale: “Your strength O Lord” and as I exhale, “Thank You”. I can do this for just a minute or two, and know that the strength, or peace, or wisdom, or joy of Christ is mine, enabling me to go into the next meeting with a sense of Christ’s presence.
We don’t need to build a cathedral every day. We just need to learn to use our little chunks of time redemptively, and if we do, something beautiful will be built, brick by five-minute brick.
Feel free to share other good five minute investments…