Don't Waste Your Commute
We live in what has to be the most frenetic society in all of human history. It seems as though things are just getting faster and faster, and the pressure to fill our schedules with non-essential activities is becoming more and more demanding. The impact of such a dynamic is not easy to measure; but, one of the things that I have noticed in my own life is that it is easy for our devotional life and family worship to fall by the wayside if we are not guarded and purposeful about it.
God has entrusted us with a stewardship to shepherd the children He has given us. They belong to Him. He has loaned them to us and made us stewards of their souls. What we do with regard to bringing them up in the training and admonition of the Lord will have an impact on them for the rest of their lives and for all of eternity. In as much as this stewardship is of paramount importance, it is also one of the responsibilities that we most quickly abnegate when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the rat race of our society. Are there tangible things that we can do to safeguard against the temptation to neglect such an important aspect of our lives? I believe that there are quite a number of practical steps that we can take in order to carry out the pursuit of feeding our own souls and bringing our shepherding our children, even in the midst of such a frenetic society.
I spend a great deal of my days driving from place to place. Two to three days a week, I am up early to drive my sons to school 30 minutes from our house. Then, I am driving to visit members in the hospital, to Presbytery meetings, to lunch and dinner appointments, to events in the church, to events in the community, to my sons sporting events, to the gym, etc. If I could calculate the hours that I spend in a car each and every week, I am sure that it would come out to somewhere between 15-20 hours/wk. This means that I need to be purposeful about utilizing the time in commute to feed my own soul and the souls of my children--not simply to be on the phone doing more work (which is what I often find myself doing). Here are four very tangible things that we can work toward as we attempt to redeem the time on our commutes:
1. Spend time in Prayer. The day I met my wife, at a bookstore, we both intimated that we liked to pray in the car on our commute to work and school. This was one of the first things that made me realize that I should pursue a relationship with her. People often complain about their prayer life not being what they know it should be. When we are alone in a car, the Lord is present with us. Our daily commutes provide us with time for communion with the living God. The car may not be the closet, but it is certainly a quiet place for prayer. If someone were to object by saying, "But, you have so many distractions when you're driving. It's not like you can close your eyes and pray while you're driving," I would encourage them to read Richard Pratt's Pray with Your Eyes Opened. We learn to pray best when we learn to pray, what we might call, "dagger prayers"--namely, short and direct prayers to God where ever we may be.
2. Listen to Audio Bible, Sermons or Lectures. We now have more resources at our disposal than ever before. If we have a 30 minute commute, we have quite a bit of time to stream the Bible online, listen to sermons from trustworthy preachers, theological lectures and classes, or podcasts that contain theologically rich content. There is absolutely no reason why we should not be feeding our souls on our commutes by means of all of these resources. Just as is true of prayer, we have to be purposeful about redeeming the time in this regard. I grew exponentially as a new believer by listening to audio recordings of Scripture and R.C. Sproul sermons on the radio on a one hour commute to work every day. You will never regret doing this.
3. Memorize Scripture and Catechism with our Children. When I was a boy, my dad would often redeem our commutes by memorizing Scripture with my sister and I. He would also teach us New Testament Greek out of Machen's New Testament Greek for Beginners. I have sought to follow his example as I raise my sons. Often, when I am driving my boys to school or somewhere else in the community, we will do our Bible memorization (we've memorized Ephesians 1, Hebrews 1, 1 Peter 1, Colossians 1 and a number of Psalms) and we review the Westminster Shorter Catechism. With regard to teaching your children the Catechism, Dana Dirksen's Songs for Saplings albums are incredible resources.
That being said, I don't want to exasperate my sons on every drive. We also listen to music and talk about what's happening in their lives; but, I also do not want to miss an opportunity to teach them truth that will serve the purpose of helping them grow in their knowledge of God.
4. Sing Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs. God instructs us in the Scripture to teach one another in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. One of the best times to do that is on our daily commutes. I have often sung a hymn with my family when we are in the car. It is a time when you can, in a largely undistracted way, teach your children the words to the hymn. Again, there are so many resources to make this accessible while we drive. For instance, the Sovereign Grace Together for the Gospel albums (vol. 1, vol. 2 and vol. 3) are outstanding accomaniment albums.
There is so much more that we can be doing to redeem our commutes. The ideas above are just a few of the ways that we can maximize our time for the spiritual benefit of our own souls and the souls of our children. May God give us more grace in Christ so that we will not waste our commute, but will use it for His glory and our spiritual good.