Whose Time?

I’ve recently been rereading several of C. S. Lewis’s books, after first reading them during my college days. I have especially enjoyed rereading The Screwtape Letters. If you’re not familiar with this classic, it is a witty and penetrating look at spiritual warfare from a demon’s point of view.

ClockUncle Screwtape, a seasoned older devil, offers written advice to his nephew Wormwood, a novice demon who must learn the tricks necessary to secure the damnation of his “patient,” an ordinary young man. The entire book is written from Screwtape’s point of view.  He sagely points out the foibles and weaknesses of fallen man, so that Wormwood can take full advantage of them while tempting his patient.

Read Screwtape’s words to Wormwood in the following quote and see if you, as a mother, can’t relate to its truth:

The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him… [This] anger[s] him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen.

Screwtape goes on to tell Wormwood that he must never allow his patient to doubt that his time is his “personal birthright.”

You have here a delicate task. The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd that, if once it is questioned, even we [the demons] cannot find a shred of argument in its defense. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.

In case, like me, you don’t know what “chattels” are, the word means “personal property.”  Do you or I own the sun or the moon? Can any of us list them as personal property when submitting a record of our belongings to our home insurance company? No, and neither can we claim even a single minute of time as our own.

If we can keep this in mind, if we will truly take hold of this truth, we will come to terms with the “interruptions” of motherhood. When we’re tempted to resent the “demands” on “our” time, when our plans are sidetracked by the needs of others, when we’re almost asleep and the baby wakes up again, we can remind ourselves — if God has brought it to pass, then it is part of His plan. And if it is part of His plan, then it is how we, His servants, should joyfully invest His time.

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  1. For a present we got; The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics! Can’t wait to share together for reading. Thank you for the review. I plan to read “The Screwtape Letters.” I’ve read different posts about this book, and why C.S. Lewis never did a sequel to this book…he stated that it hurt him too much to be in that frame of mind (devil) —I would definite agree!!

  2. What a great reminder that our time “comes to him by pure gift”. I needed to hear that again. Thanks! :O)

  3. Thanks for this reminder. “if God has brought it to pass, then it is part of His plan. And if it is part of His plan, then it is how we, His servants, should joyfully invest His time.”

    For the past few nights our 9th child who is 4 months old has been waking up every 3 hours at least. He did the same last night. I had fed him last at 4 am and then he’s crying again at 5:30 am. Doesn’t he realize I am tired!?! lol So, I got up, because he like to walk around. Of course he quieted down when I walked around with him and talked to him! With having so many children, I have learned to enjoy the nightly disturbances, but I needed an in your face reminder, instead of me just knowing it. Or should I say, I am very visual so seeing it in writing is more effective for me! I am sure it won’t be too many more nights and things will go back to normal, but for now I will treasure them for God’s glory!

  4. The “interruptions” ARE the journey! They don’t get in the way of the journey! I needed the reminder to embrace the journey!

  5. WOW – I needed that!! C.S. Lewis and that book are some of my favorites. Such insight – thanks!!

  6. Thanks! I am guilty of calling it ‘my time’. A good reminder that it all it from God.

  7. Thank you for reminding me that nothing is mine, but it is all a gift from our Heavenly Father!

  8. Thank you for this exhortation! It is difficult to remember sometimes!!! Thank you for this Godly and wise encouragement!

  9. Actually, as I read these remarks, I am at a point in my life that I actually miss those quiet moments in the middle of the night when it was just me and my child. At the time, I am sure I went through those times frustrated and thinking some of those same thoughts spoken of. But, now, if I could only go back and look at it through the lenses described here…treasured those moments orchestrasted by God that I TOTALLY took for granted and was so self centered with. Thank you for the reminder and I still needed the lesson that, although I don’t have babies anymore, I still have the wonderful blessings that God entrusted into my care that I need to look at every moment as orchestrated by God and treasure each and every trial and interruption and use those moments in the best way possible letting my children see God in every response!

  10. Profound! God’s timing is so amazing. I was just thinking of marriage advice for my future sister-in-law and the thing that came to mind was “time is more valuable than money. You can always make a dollar, but you can never earm a minute.” These thoughts came as I put away yet another pair of pants and shoes of my growing children. Clearly Satan’s biggest theft from us is time spent on selfish aims.

  11. Thank you for using God’s time to encourage others in the Lord. I was blessed not only by the blog, but by the comments shared. May God continue to bless the fruit of your hands.

  12. By the way, my daughter Bethany and I were privileged to see Max McLean’s theatrical adaptation of The Screwtape Letters. http://www.screwtapeonstage.com/ It was an incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking performance. If you live near Cincinnati, Minneapolis, Columbus, Atlanta, or Houston, I recommend doing whatever it takes to see one of the performances still coming to those cities.

  13. Thank you for this post, it helps to hear this and be reminded who our time belongs to. It encourages me and I know it will help me through my day as little things interupt and come up.
    I am thoroughly enjoying this blog, thank you

  14. Thank you for the reminder. I will not lie, as a mother of two young boys I often feel resentful in the evening when I feel that they are cutting into “My” time. I am greatful to be reminded that it is in fact not “My” time. And what a greater investment of time than that which is dedicated to my children whom God has entrusted me.

  15. This is a very timely post for me. I’ve been having some stinky attitude issues over this very topic the last couple days.
    Thanks, Mama. 🙂

  16. You’re so very welcome, dear daughter and mama of my darling granddaughters! Fun to see you here! I love you!

  17. Oh, this is a struggle for me–a focus of prayer lately that I will see “my” time as His and all those interruptions as a chance to serve. I gotta say, I had no idea how selfish I was until I had kids;). Loved Rebekah’s comment, too: “Clearly Satan’s biggest theft from us is time spent on selfish aims.” So frighteningly true!!

  18. Great post! Something I struggle with DAILY.

  19. A timely reminder for me (pardon the pun)! I should read that book every other month….

  20. Sooo good.
    Thank you.
    Interrupted 3 times while reading, but hey–that’s the point–right? 🙂

  21. Hi! This post is so timely for me. I am a new mom (my son is 3 weeks old) and although I knew with my “head” that “my schedule” would change, a part of me still wants to hold onto “my time” and the very same thoughts you mentioned at the end of your post is what I have been having to take captive the past few days. I am constantly having to remind myself that my plans and what I think is important/priority is not more important than taking care of my son at this season of his life. The Lord often reminds me of Hebrew 6:10…”For God is not unjust to forget your ..labor of love..in that you have ministered to the saints [child(ren)]….”

    Thanks for your reminder and encouragment!

  22. Oh I am even more excited to move this book to the top of my reading list! Thank you so much for sharing your insights, I look forward to more posts. Enjoy your day!

  23. May God forgive my selfishness. I’m guilty of murmurings in the middle of the night, awakened by a hungry nursling every 2 hours, then having another child wander in wanting a hug after a bad dream. How selfish can I be? I needed the perspective. I have been trying to work on my own attitude, especially with having children all day, homeschooling, there is little/no downtime and I do get resentful once in a while. Especially with a baby, it’s hard to find time to brush one’s teeth on a regular basis. Thank you for the reminder that it’s not about mom’s pity party. It’s all service. Thank you, Jessica for the Heb 6:10 reference. I’m gonna sticky note that one right now! I’d love to read The Screwtape Letters as well. Thank you for the reminder of being joyful in the service aspect of motherhood, rested or otherwise!

  24. How timely your words are! I had a conversation over milkshakes with a dear friend just yesterday about this very topic but in relation to wanting time to fulfill our own agendas vs. what our husbands want us to be doing. We ought not view the requests of our husbands as interruptions, but that’s just what we sometimes do. We’ve bought the lie that our time is our own — that we need or are due some “me” time — what we really need is to repent. Blessings! ~Lisa

  25. C. S. Lewis must have talked about that same theme somewhere else. I have this quote as the background on my computer and on my blog: “The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s “own” or “real” life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life—the life God is sending one day by day; what one calls one’s “real life” is a phantom of one’s own imagination.”

    If I owned the sun and the moon, I would change the length of days and nights to suite my fancy and it probably wouldn’t be with much wisdom!

    By the way, nice clock! 😉

  26. Oh how true this is.

    The Screwtape Letters is such an eye-opening book. Though it is fictional, I believe there is a lot of truth to it.

    Thank you for this. I needed to hear it–and should probably hear it everyday for the rest of my life so I do not forget.

  27. Thank you. I really needed that reminder today. : )

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