Confession. I haven't been very disciplined lately when it comes to making the best use of my time. Instead of opening my Bible, I've scrolled through social media, and rather than bowing my head in prayer, I've hunched over the daily Wordle. Before I know it, the hour that I intended to spend in worship has evaporated, and I'm left feeling frustrated with myself for getting distracted and wasting time. Again.
I imagine that from the outside looking in, I seem like someone who has it all together. I teach a Sunday school class every week at church and spend my days helping people cultivate faithfulness, remember truth, and do good. It’s literally my job to create tools and resources for spiritual growth.
And yet, here I am. Out of whack and needing an adjustment. Are you here with me??
Read the Word
The apostle Paul wrote the letter of Ephesians to a group of brand new believers to encourage and instruct them in the ways of the Christian life. Near the end of the letter, he gives them this word of advice.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17
Reflect on Truth
What does it look like to make the best use of our time? We’ve only got 24 hours in the day, and most of us spend at least 6-8 of them sleeping. Work and caring for our families takes up a good chunk of the remainder, so there’s really not a lot left over when it's all said and done.
In the verses above, Paul draws a distinction between the wise and the unwise. Those who are foolish waste the time they have. They spend it flitting here, there, and everywhere with little thought to God. They live their lives for themselves and are driven by selfish desires. Or maybe they’re just distracted. Who knows? Either way, they make foolish choices, and that’s never good.
In contrast, Paul said that the wise are careful about how they walk. They pay attention to what they’re doing and where they're going. They redeem their time, trading in the precious minutes and hours of their days for things that are worthy of their attention. Because of this, he goes on to say, they’re filled with the Spirit, worship God continually, and overflow with gratitude.
I know which one sounds better to me.
Maybe you’ve got this whole making the best use of the time thing down already, but I’ve found that this is an area of my life that needs constant maintenance. When I don’t get enough sleep or feel overwhelmed by life, I tend to give myself permission to skip my tried and true morning routine and just be lazy for a day. The problem is that sometimes, one day off turns into a week, and before I know it, it’s been ages since I spent any significant time with the Lord.
The good news is that God is both patient and kind with his children. He is full of grace and mercy for this wandering heart of mine, and he is always faithful, even when I am anything but. The frustration and disquiet that I’ve been feeling lately is nothing less than the conviction of the Holy Spirit, who gently leads me back on track when my attention starts to stray.
The only thing that remains is for me to follow through.
That looks like leaving the phone facedown on the kitchen counter after the girls leave for school. It’s opening my Bible to read and reflect. It’s picking up my journal to write and pray. It’s sipping coffee and sitting still and staying put until my heart is happy in the Lord and ready to face the day.
Then, and only then, can I get on with my to do list. And maybe complete the Wordle.
Skipping this precious time with the Lord is like skipping breakfast (and everyone knows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day). If we don’t get the nourishment that we need, we’ll be tired, cranky, and hangry before mid-morning. Spiritually speaking, of course.
George Müller, wise man that he was, put it this way: “How different, when the soul is refreshed and made happy early in the morning, from what it is when without spiritual preparation, the service, the trials, and the temptations of the day come upon one.”
The simple truth is that I cannot be the wife, mom, daughter, and friend that God has called me to be, nor can I do the work that he has called me to do, if I do not first redeem my time by spending it on him. When I think about it that way, it’s obvious that there is no time to waste.
Respond in Prayer
Oh Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, for we are sinners. Forgive us for all the ways that we have fallen short and failed to live up to your standards. Grant us now your grace, and help us be the people that you have created us to be. May your Spirit guide us in truth and establish our steps.
Oh Lord, we humbly ask that you would train us in the ways of faithfulness, and teach us to number our days. Help us make the best use of the precious time that you have given us, for the days are dark indeed.
Oh Lord, though the days are dark, you are light. Draw us near and hold us fast today, tomorrow, and forevermore. Our hearts are ever yours. Amen.
“Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let Thy goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing, 1758