Posted by: Tom Gaddis | August 13, 2010

Am I Making a Difference and Guilt Relief

I was enjoying a cappuccino at a local coffee house this morning when a title in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye: “The Tyranny of the Clock.”

In thinking about why I was drawn to this article, I can pick from multiple reasons:

1)      The article gave me refuge and distraction from the screaming coffee grinder— torturing innocent beans more than grinding them.

2)      The article gave me distance from the last article about my tax dollars helping research how Methamphetamine enhances the motivation of female rat’s sexual behavior— no doubt, a burning issue for you too.

3)      The article title held the promise of some guilt relief.

Let me explain why I choose door number three. It’s because I’m pretty consistently running three quarts low on assurance that I’m spending my time—my day, my week, my life—as wisely as I could.

I’m a person who packs around a low-grade guilt that occasionally makes it way to the surface like undigested cucumbers. The other night was one of those times.

After losing the debate on whether to read or watch TV, I was settling in for an episode of Law and Order, only to be upended by one cops remark to her partner, “We do this because we want to make a difference!”

Dang! I hadn’t even gotten to the Order part and was sent on a journey to the center of my weirdness and guilt, setting off a reflux of questions: Am I making a difference? Do I really need to be watching TV right now? Are my days counting for something?

And then finally, will someday there be a memorial service for me with the chief accolade: “Tom…well let’s see…hmmm…he had a high bowling score and he loved Law and Order?”

Do you ever feel this way or am I the worst neurotic about these kinds of things that I know?

Well, back to the article. Bill Kauffman reviewing Howard Mansfield’s new tome Turn and Jump calls Mansfield “a critic of the rushed life.”

Concluding his appraisal, Kauffman caps off the review with a vivid quote from the author: “Time collapses in an old graveyard.”

Then commenting on this—our book reviewer does a bit of good writing himself with head-clearing words: “All of us—whether our wrists are encircled by a Timex, a Rolex or a hospital ID—will learn this soon enough.”

Alas, there was no help here that I couldn’t find in Psalm 90:12. But I wonder if this uneasiness about clock wasting isn’t a God thing? Could these unsettling episodes be yet another of His reminders to do the math—subtraction mostly—and gain a heart of wisdom that life is short so spend it carefully?



  1. Tom, being on the mission field I ask myself that question almost daily, “Am I making a difference?”
    Many mornings I get up, some 3,000 + miles away from my grandbabies, and wonder if what I am doing today makes it worth being this far away from home. So I plan my day as full as possible so that it is not wasted…then the whole day is “shot” because someone came by the house and spent hours talking and totally ruined MY plan! That’s when the Lord reminds me that it is HIS plan that matters, that one person was more important than my To Do list. I made a difference that day to that person who God sent to my door…and I say, thank you, Lord. This is the day and the plan that You have made, and I will rejoice in it.

  2. Thanks Debbie for sharing your thoughts. You make an excellent point about those people interupptions really being His plan and means for us to make a difference. I am going to be alert to those this week–for sure.

    Also your post caused me to pray for you and Bill. Thank you for the sacrifice of being so far away from family on behalf of not only Costa Ricans, us here in the U.S., but also Jesus.

    We love you. tg

  3. Hi Tom, Think of you and Susan often and found your blog tonight. I know what you mean when considering our time. Psalm 90:12 is a scripture that has been on my heart for several months.
    I have wanted to write you for soooo long and share that you and Susan have made a difference in my life and I am forever grateful. I have a Christian foundation because of your work. So keep up the good work as He teaches us to number our days, and He will give us a heart of wisdom to know how to live out our days for His glory. Your labor is out there at work. My love to you and Susan. Cheryl

  4. Hi Cheryl, It’s great hearing from you aqnd thank you for your kind comment. How are you and the family? tg

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