Choosing Our Battles

The days are too short for me to get everything done that needs doing. I have a job to do, a family to love, a church to be, a God to serve, a dissertation to write, and a weird desire to read and write a lot.

The reality is that we can’t have it all. We can’t get everything that we might want to get done in life finished.

Used by creative common license from

Used by creative common license from

In fact, if you’re able to get through your to-do list in a year, it’s probably a reflection of low aspirations and not effective use of your time. If you are okay with that, then I’m okay, too.

The negative side of this is that I have to make choices not to do things that I would really like to do more of.

I have to balance learning a language with working out. I have to weigh the value of getting my dissertation done a little faster versus playing with my children. I have to consider the cost of writing another blog post against the possibility that it might help someone or I might become a better writer through the process.

I have to make choices and limit myself in order to do what I have time to do reasonably well.

The positive side of my finiteness is that I have to make choices not to do things that I really shouldn’t be doing anyway.

There are some crazy people running for President; I don’t have time to research every stupid thing everyone said. There's already enough information to know who the train wrecks are.

In other news, public figure got drunk, got arrested, and said some awful racist things. A movie was lewd and misrepresented Christianity. Some people said some theologically stupid things and some other people tried to explain it to them (or really to the people that already agreed with their disagreement). I can’t really make a difference by focusing on any of those things.

I have to make choices and so I’m learning to let some things pass me by. This is a good thing, I think.

There is only so much life to live. I’ve got to figure out how to use it as well as I can. I’ve only got so many bullets to fire and the enemy is surrounding me. I’d better shoot well and have some ammunition to last me through the battle.

The same thing is true with all of us. We only have so many bullets to fire. So what kind of shots are we taking?

Are we focused on promoting the gospel or are we focused on justifying our perspective on everything? Sometimes our perspective lines up with the gospel. At other times our perspective is consistent with the gospel, but the gospel can march on even if we don’t get our way.


Take, for instance, the issue of gun control. The Constitution is a good thing because it limits the governments power. Lord Acton was just about right when he said that thing about power corrupting. However, the gospel will march on whether the government respects the second amendment or not.

Do I think that increasing federal gun control laws are going to be helpful for reducing crime? Probably not. Sin permeates the human heart and there are many other ways to kill people singly or in groups.

But I do think I might alienate someone and keep them from hearing the gospel because I’m shouting too loud about something that really won’t matter for eternity. Heaven will stand whether I carry a pistol in this life or not.

These few statements will lead some to argue that I’m forgoing my responsibility as a citizen. No, that isn’t quite the case. I still vote. I periodically write letters to elected representatives. There are civil issues on which I may take a public stand yet.

The question is whether the present issue, whatever it happens to be, is worth a bullet. I’ve only got so much time to read, think, and write. There’s only so many times someone who disagrees with me will consider my opinion, unless we have a really special friendship. So I need to make my disagreements matter. I need to make my research and writing matter.


Basically, this all comes down to my realization that life is short and I need to make sure I get the important things done before I meet Christ face to face.

My suggestion is that the world might be a happier place and the gospel light might shine a little brighter if more of us remembered why it is that we’re here and what really matters for eternity.