3 Ways to Grab Fistfuls of Light
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)
They say time is money, but time is more valuable than money. We can get more money but we cannot get more time - it is a nonrenewable resource. As we walk towards heaven, our lives are finite and so each moment was a moment used up.
I remember when Lindsay and I were newly married, we were just so busy. We filled our time with God knows what and felt like we were running around with our hair on fire. Now with two little ones and a ton going on professionally (read: we are actually busy now), when I hear a young couple talk about how busy they are I laugh. Ha-ha-ha, you little foolish ones! Ha-ha...ha...h.
No matter how much money we have we'll figure out a way to spend it. We'll hire Beyoncé to sing us lullabies and ride golden helicopters to our mailbox if we have to. The same goes with time. We will spend our time. Or it'll spend us.
Paul says we need to make the best use of our time because the days are evil. I don't think Paul means that days are really evil themselves, although some of you hate Mondays like the stomach flu. No, Paul is warning the church in Ephesus about the danger of not managing our time in this age of suffering, warfare, and pain. The world is a battlefield, so don't sit there while mortars pound the earth and bullets snap by your head.
Though we should not be anxious for tomorrow (Matt. 6:34) and we should not be busybodies (1 Tim. 5:13), we should have a sense of urgency. Our time matters and the return on investment (ROI) of that time matters. I heard someone once call this ERR - Eternal Rate of Return. I like that.
If we don't manage our time someone else will do it for us - entertainment, work, our spouse. A passive approach puts holes in our boat. Surely you have watched this happen, your afternoon leaking away into the evening.
If we manage our time, we'll grab more moments of joy - fistfuls of the light of Christ. So how do we do this?
1. Find out where it goes. Legendary management guru Peter Drucker advised executives to write down where their time goes - or to have someone else, like an assistant, do it for them. Drucker argued that you can't maximize your time if you don't know where it's going.
2. Schedule rest and leisure. Managing our time is not about packing 10 pounds of junk into a 2 pound sack. No, we need to see time as a gift to be stewarded. And sometimes when someone gives you a gift you just want to look at it, to run your hands over the hood or to take it for a walk. We need to schedule time to rest in God and enjoy our time.
3. Vote priorities with time. If you don't have time to read your Bible, that's your fault. If your kids don't know you, that's on you. Vote with your time, scheduling and blocking out moments for what matters. In step 1 you will see your loves, and if you're honest you'll have some rearranging to do in your time allocation.
Jesus was a busy guy, with crowds clamoring for His attention and time. Prayer and fellowship with His Dad was important to Him, so He made a regular practice of getting up early and getting away to pray. I guess He figured no one could take His mornings from Him, as most people were still asleep.
Time is a river, in a way - carrying us along without our control. God is outside of time though, and He stands beside the river handing us gifts the whole time. A baby's laughter, a good sandwich, the chance to pray with a sick friend. Sometimes we receive a gift of suffering for His sake, which feels like a picnic basket full of wasps at first - until the light of God breaks through. If we open our eyes and look around, we'll grab hold of these presents wrapped in time. Just be sure to look to shore and say thank you.
Photo credit: becosky via Flickr