Sunday, June 11, 2017

Utilizing Time Well

Time. When we think of it in terms of increments (an hour, day, week, month, year, decade), it becomes apparent that it is eluding our grasp quicker than we'd like it to. An adult cannot return to childhood because time has progressed since then, nor can a kid enter adolescence before the natural sequence of time permits. We see time played out in all different scenarios:

- A work day
- A meeting or counseling session
- Classes
- Drive home from work
- The entertainment we consume
- Cooking
- Holding conversations
- Exercise

We are called to "redeem the time," not squander it. And redeeming the time is only possible through goal-setting, planning, structure, and accountability. It involves remembering that we have but one life and every day we are writing our legacy. It entails living for a bigger cause than our own wants and desires and actively seeking to make the world a better place through our presence in it. It includes getting rid of ingrained habits like complaining and instead adopting a mentality of purposeful gratitude and positivity, regardless of how cumbersome our present season of life is. It requires us to examine our lives, spending habits, and the company we keep to see if such things hinder or help our progress in moving forward. It demands we be 100% willing to part ways with what society deems successful (countless hours at work in order to attain worldly treasures at the expense of quality time with our families) and instead look to God's word for wisdom as to what real value is. It calls us to turn from our wicked ways and do what is right (even when we are alone and it seems no one would ever find out). It calls for a new perspective, a proper outlook, a right attitude. It beckons us to return to simplicity and righteousness. It requires we think long-term. Indeed, redeeming the time is all-encompassing. Yet nothing we give up in pursuit of it can compare to the riches and beauty of a life well-spent.

It helps to see life from an eternal perspective. God willing you live until old age -- will you be content and at peace with how you spent your years? To be sure you can confidently say then, "I have used my life for the glory and exaltation of God and the good of others," you must begin doing so now and continue making right choices throughout your life (no excuses). I've found the following to be helpful regarding how I spend time:

- Have a plan for every hour
- Set a timer to get chores done
- Say no to anything that steers your mind toward shallow things and lessens your desire to pursue Christ wholeheartedly
- Seek counsel
- Grow to be responsible
- Learn to manage money
- Practice self-care
- Look for opportunities to serve
- Read remarkable books
- Engage in enriching discussion
- Take walks
- Spend time with the elderly
- Pray

Such choices add to my quality of life (unlike when I sometimes aimlessly view social media which tends to take up more time than I'd like to admit). Having a detailed plan helps ensure time is spent in a way that brings a smile of satisfaction to your face and a feeling of serenity as you ponder all you can accomplish over the course of many decades (God willing). It serves as a useful guide as to what you will agree to and what you will back away from. As the saying goes, "Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best." What a concept! Choosing what is best above what is convenient, what brings the most impact above settling for mediocrity in our endeavors, and what will profit others and not just ourselves.

When starting a school assignment, working on a project, or writing a book, people tend to make a rough draft, serving the purpose of preparation and making way for action. Yet in the realm of spiritual growth, personal issues, and relationship troubles we are far too often guilty of drifting instead of being intentional with making a rough draft as to guide our next steps toward mending the problems we face.

People settle for mindless entertainment instead of gleaning wisdom through lectures and books. We allow laziness to rule us, make excuses to delay improvement, and do not enlist the help of others. Then we wonder how months have flown by and there is little achievement and growth to show for it. Worse yet, we think we have time and thus don't mind currently wasting it on lesser pursuits than living passionately for the glory of God and making the most of every day we are given. But are catering to self, gaining a variety of experiences, and having fun the ultimate goals of life? Or could a better life await us if only we'd humbly offer God a surrendered heart and pray for wisdom as to what He would like us to do with the one life we've been given?

Whether you live to be one hundred or died tomorrow, who will have their way regarding what you do with your time? Will self reign and the changing tides of culture dictate the choices you make? Or will you give God supremacy of your life and pray that He would change you and then use you in the lives of others so they too can come to know their Creator and the One whose purposes far outweigh in meaning and joy anything we could chase after on our own?

As someone who has made plenty of poor choices in life, I can testify (finally) that living life God's way truly is our best option. Oh, the trouble and wasted time it will spare us! Oh, the regret and sorrow we will avoid! And is not the ultimate purpose of life to know Christ deeply, obey Him regularly, seek His glory above our own, make His name known among the nations, and upon our dying day to then hear the precious words, "Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master"?

Surely nothing this world has to offer is worth throwing our lives down the drain (even gradually) and then being separated from God for all eternity because we chose to try and deify ourselves instead of accepting His offer of salvation and giving God His rightful place in our hearts.

It's ironic that, from a worldly perspective, complete submission to God and His word makes it seem like our freedom and independence are being stifled. And yet it is only through being in right standing with Him and living accordingly that we gain true freedom: freedom from people-pleasing, freedom from finding our identity in what can never fully complete us, deliverance from following the norms of culture, freedom to not go along with the crowd for the sake of fitting in. Equally ironic is how prone we are to not even acknowledge God until life hurts and we have exhausted all other resources.

So why delay? Why not get on your face before God this very hour and acknowledge you cannot live rightly or flourish as He intended without Him being Lord and Master of your life? Why not ask for His help and guidance in making a complete turnaround in the way you live? Take it from me: There is nothing like an intimate walk with God. Nothing compares to knowing Him (knowing about Him is very different). And I say this not as one promoting the concept of self-fulfillment because of what God can do for us, but as one who realizes how indebted we are to our Maker and sees the need to orchestrate my life and choices in accordance with His word because He is worthy. It is the King of kings and Lord of lords we are dealing with here. How foolish of us to regard Him as anything less.

"Only one life, 'twill soon be past, only what's done for Christ will last." C. T. Studd


Anonymous said...

Hi there! Do you use Twitter? I'd like to follow you if that would
be okay. I'm undoubtedly enjoying your blog and look forward to new

Emma Joy said...


Thanks for writing! You can follow me on Twitter @EmmaJoyBlog and @fuelinglust . It's always nice to receive positive feedback on the posts I write, so thank you for that. May you continue to learn and grow here.

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