Thursday, August 05, 2004

Filling the Time

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. -Ephesians 5:15-16

Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. -Colossians 4:5

"How on earth are you filling the time without TV??" asked a friend, incredulously. It's true, my husband and I made the decision to forgo TV for the month of August. No more flipping through the stations just to see what's on. No more giving in to my toddler's demands of "Blue's Clues, Mommy, Blue's Clues!" Enough with the same old Friends or Seinfeld rerun we've seen 8 times already.

But my friend's question seemed to highlight the issue for me so clearly. Why do humans have this constant need to "fill time?" What is wrong with just allowing an hour - or even a day- to just unfold? And if we are acceeding to this need to "fill it," then what are we filling it with? If the answer is TV, then we are filling the time with refuse. Offal! Dung! Think about it: insipid sitcoms, most of which are just one long sex joke. Police dramas, in which bloody homicides are brought right into our living rooms. You would not allow these people into your home, but every night you spend hour after hour with them. Even shows, ostensibly designed to be good for children, portray parents alternately as buffoons or as over-strict martinets. Rebellious children are rewarded with adventures, romance, and the self-satisfying position of having been proved right.

Now, I enjoy Christian TV, videos, and truly good children's programs as much as the next Mom. But even when the content is positive, I see the slack-jawed, glassy-eyed expression on my toddler's face as he is glued to the screen, oblivious to whatever else is going on around him. The last time his grandmother came to visit from over 400 miles away, she arrived in the middle of "The Wiggles." He didn't even look up as she entered the room and greeted him. That is not how I want my sons to be raised.

I want them to value people over things, real relationships over mere entertainment. I want them to be able to be equally comfortable reading in the silence of the midafternoon and yelling and roughhousing in the backyard. And I don't want to just "fill" my own time with meaningless drivel on the screen. I want to be reading God's Word, and really taking its lessons to heart. I want to be thinking of and working on ways to make my marriage and family stronger. I want to learn to sew, write a book, evangelize my dad, bake a pie, build a sandbox. It's amazing how much more time I have for all those pursuits when the remote controls have been hidden away.

I don't want to merely "fill the time;" I want to redeem it. I want to make the most of the time that God has given us here on earth. This is our training ground for heaven. This is our mission field. As a Christian, I know that "our side" will someday be victorious in this culture war. And I know, hope and pray that someday, I'll be in heaven. The only question is how many souls I'll take with me when I go. Who will God have allowed me to touch and how will God use me as His instrument to help bring people to him? I don't have all these answers. But I know it's a lot easier to listen for them with the boob tube off.


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