Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Redeeming The Time

Dr F.W. Boreham at his writing deskI was marvelling recently about how much the 74 year old F.W. Boreham did. Not only did he preach at least twice a week, he wrote a weekly column for the Melbourne Age Newspaper, the Hobart Mercury, produced a book a year, was a regular contributor to at least six monthly journals or periodicals, read a book a week, and made pastoral house-calls four afternoons a week. I'm staggered at his output. But then again, I swim in a culture of 24/7 social-media, 16 Free-to-air television channels, several million YouTube videos, several billion webpages, and what seems like hundreds of (mostly trivial) emails everyday - which all seem to hinder me from using my time well. Even with all my technological "time-saving" devices, I doubt that I get a fraction done of what people a generation ago achieved. Nevertheless, even though I struggle, there is hope.
making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:16


Buy a pony and stop praying for one!Leading up to Christmas, some dear folk asked me what I would like for Christmas. Under pressure to keep up with the demands on my time, the first thing that came to mind, but not past my lips, was, "More time!"  Knowing I will never get more time, I am left to pray what the Scriptures tell me to do - redeem the time. Some prayers are not meant to be prayed but this one is!

Time is the most precious gift we each have. It is so precious that it is virtually equated with our very lives. To give your life to someone is to give your time to them. When you think you've just told someone, "I love you" but then won't give them your time, you've actually told them something other than what you think they heard from you. It's why attending, weddings, birthdays, funerals and church is so important.
¶ Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.
Colossians 4:5


HourglassHave you ever wasted time? Whether you have or haven't is determined by answering the should question. With the time that you have what should you be doing? If your answer is other than what you should be doing then your answer might be describing what wasting time looks like. And this is where I encounter many of my problems with time. When I should do something, but really really really don't want to, I find things that urgently require my attention. I find them. They are not all ignoble. But they successfully occupy my time when I should be doing something else.

Should not only guides my daily moments, it also my lifetime. However I answer the why, what, how and where questions that should asks, I know that the answer will involve my use of time. But to satisfy should my answer cannot merely involve the use of my time - it must involve the disciplined use of my time. But still should is not entirely satisfied with this painful answer. Then I realise why. It can not merely be the disciplined use of my time that will ensure I use my time to fulfil my purpose the way God has wired and called me to do in the place and time that He has called me to do it - it has to be the self-disciplined use of my time.

Sand Scuptures take time!From my observations of people who seem to manage pressure, and therefore time, well, I notice that they are able to withdraw from their time-bank when they need to. This of course means that they have made adequate deposits into it. In other words, they invest their time well. Reading a book, watching a movie, having a coffee with a colleague, going for a walk, throwing a ball with your son, taking your wife out to dinner, might seem like a waste of time, but they might also be investments of time. The Bible doesn't use the wordinvestment but it does use a three-letter word which means the same thing.


'Time heals all wounds'...'In time you'll get over it'...'Time to move on'... 'What happened in the past should be left in the past'... Myths like these are nearly always half-truths. Time does not heal all wounds - but time used wisely can help wounds to heal. In time you won't get over it unless you learn to grieve and forgive properly over time. When it's time to move on you will already have because you've aligned yourself with reality and surrendered to God's sovereignty. What happened in the past should not be left in the past if gross injustice is involved (such as a World War II Nazi war criminal should be brought to justice despite the decades that have passed). We could add to this list. A supplier may forget to invoice a client and when their oversight is discovered they invoice their client - who then claims that they have no right to expect payment because too much time has elapsed (another version of What happens in the past should be left in the past).

Considering the Master of Time, Jesus, who never wasted a second but perfectly used the time He was given, we see that He regarded those things which we usually regard as 'interruptions' as: 'Sovereign Appointments'. A few years ago I began to learn this. People are not always interruptions. Highly task driven people struggle to appreciate this. The next time you read through the Gospels, take note of how much of what Christ did was as a result of an interruption. Not all interruptions are a waste of time.


¶ The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
Second Corinthians 9:6
I haven't discovered everything I need to know about how to best use my time. I'm aware that there are some people who have little choice in how their time is used (whether through physical injury/disability, consequences of unwise choices, or stage of life issues). But for those of us who have the gift of time and the privilege to manage it within the constraints of our responsibilities, there are five things you might find helpful about increasing the value of your time: Create To-Do lists; Carry time-redeemers with you (book, pen and notepad, etc); Get appropriate help; Establish routines; and: Learn to forgive (bitterness steals valuable time from you).

One of the biggest lessons I have learned about increasing the effectiveness of my time is to sow it into God. I said from the outset that because time is one of our most valuable gifts, when we give it to someone we are saying something to them about how valuable they are to us. When a husband agrees to spend time with his wife and her friends he is telling his wife that he loves her and values her judgment. 

When a follower of Christ spends time with those for whom Christ died and lives dearly they are telling Christ that they love Him. But mysteriously, it seems that such time is not merely spending time - it's sowingtime. I have committed my life to Christ and being in His House with His people every Sunday at both services - because I want to love Jesus by loving what He loves. The result of this time-sowing seems to be time-reaping. Thus, I may not be as self-disciplined with my time as I hope to become, but this time-sowing principle has least given me the opportunity to begin to redeem the time that God has given me. And one day, you and I will stand before God in real-time and give an account of how we used our most valuable gift from Him: our life. And it is my hope that we can experience the best our Creator has for us in eternity because we learned to value the right things in this life.

Ps. Andrew
(I recently did a radio interview on this topic. You can listen to it here.)

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