by Kayte McCoy
“The days are long, but the years are short!”
“Don’t blink, or those kids will be grown!”
“Life goes by SO fast!”
If a new mom had a dime for every time she heard a phrase such as this, she could pay for her baby’s diapers long past the potty-training phase! I know that I heard it only a hundred million times as I carted my four little ones around town, and if it had been one of THOSE mornings, I would bite back a snarky retort. It would have been something along the lines of “parents could not physically survive infancy and toddlerhood if it were not fleeting!”
Of course, once we have passed that stage of life, we look back and say, “Yes, that did go by quicker than I imagined possible!” The youngest child does or says something that sounds so very mature, and we look at our spouse with raised eyebrows saying, “Well… she went and grew up, didn’t she?!”
Whatever stage we are enduring right now does not last. There are so many stages that involve so much change: busy, transitional, turbulent, learning, building, preparing, and hurting. All kinds of stages make up a lifetime. Those wise, old grannies say to us, “This, too, shall pass,” and they are correct. We only get one life on this earth: one decade to be in our 20s, one chance to parent those preschoolers, one time to be newlyweds, and then a long time to be “oldie-weds.”
What should we want to do with our time? We want to redeem our time!
Let us look at Ephesians 5:15-17 and see what we can learn about redeeming our time.
Verse 15 – “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,”
walk (peripateō: make one’s way, progress, conduct oneself, regulate one’s life)
circumspectly (akribōs: exactly, accurately, diligently)
This “walk” is a far cry from just doing what we FEEL we want to do! This sounds a lot like discipline.
Verse 16 – “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”
redeeming (exagorazō: to buy up, to make wise and sacred use of every opportunity for doing good)
time (kirois: season, period of opportunity)
evil (ponēros: full of labors, annoyances, hardships, of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble)
Verse 17 – “Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.”
understanding (syniēmi: to set or join together in the mind)
will (thelēma: of what God wishes to be done by us, commands, precepts)
Each season is an opportunity.
We should ask ourselves, “In what season am I?” Following this question will be a very personal, individualized answer. This season may be a season to which many others can relate and one that many have in common; or, it may be something very unique to the individual and the accompanying circumstances. To put it into WORDS, let us ask, “In what season of life am I?” Here are some examples: change, growth, rest, preparation, service, etc.
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” – Ecclesiastes 3:1
There is a purpose to every season. God has allowed it for a reason; God does not waste anything.
When I am going through a difficult situation, I do not want my struggle to be for nothing. I want to GROW from it! I want my suffering to be used by God to magnify Himself and to help others. It is so cliché, but I cannot help but think of that saying, “Don’t get bitter; get better.” By “better,” I mean closer to the Lord, more aware of His blessings, and more in tune with the mind of Christ. There is a fellowship with Christ which is gained only by suffering.
By allowing God to work IN us, He can then work THROUGH us.
God has a will for us, but so does Satan.
“And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” – 2 Timothy 2:26
Satan is an opportunist. He will exploit any hardship in our lives to get us to veer from the path on which God wants us. He will fight dirty and kick us while we are down. Top-level athletes desire an even playing field because the victory is so much more satisfying when the game is fair. However, Satan does not care about being fair. The Christians who are facing the hardest time in their lives, hurting beyond what they thought a human could hurt, are exactly the Christians who Satan has in his sights. He will attack our minds and our relationships, and also use whatever means necessary to nullify our Christian testimony in the eyes of the unsaved.
However, fellow Christians, we are not at Satan’s mercy!
“…because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” – 1 John 4:4b
Satan can tempt us all that he wants, but it is always OUR CHOICE to either give in or to stand strong in the faith!
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
The Shepherd will lead if the sheep will follow.
Verse 17 in Ephesians 5 tells us that in wisdom we can understand what the will of God is for us to make the most of the opportunities of the season in which we are.
“Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.” – Ephesians 5:10
prove (dokimazō: to test, examine, to recognize as genuine after examination, to approve, deem worthy)
At times, we may wish that God would make every decision “black and white” and “crystal clear.” However, God is craving a RELATIONSHIP with us, and HE pursues us! A change in season is an opportunity for us to grow to a new level in our relationship with Him.
Ladies once were very limited in their life and day-to-day choices, but now we are surrounded by so many choices! We have more options open to us now than ever before. We can choose to have a career, to stay home with our children, or to work from home through a variety of opportunities.
We must take care not to mistake God’s will for OUR will. We will be able to verify God’s will with God’s Word. God is true to His promises and reveals His will in two ways. These two ways are indelibly linked together and go hand-in-hand.
First, we must have exposure to His Word, the Bible. We should read it daily; we should strive to read every part of it. When we open God’s Word we must go forth “hungry” for the truths found there. God will provide commands to us through the Bible, but we must be submissive to them. How can we expect God to open up to us more when we will not obey that which we already know to be right?
We should LOOK for God’s leading as we study the Bible. However, we must be cautious not to “read” what is not there. God will never give special license to do something which contradicts His Word. Many Christians have convinced themselves that God “okayed” their sin. Do right and obey His Word.
Second, we must live under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It is so easy to allow ourselves to be influenced by the voice of the world, so we must PURPOSFULLY yield to the Spirit, asking Him to direct our paths. “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;” – Ephesians 5:18
When we really do not know what God wants because it is not a “right vs. wrong” situation and there are no cut-and-dry biblical answers, we should ask God to intervene. We should ask Him to shut a door if He wishes. We must bow to His sovereignty. We should ask Him to manipulate the circumstances. He sees our hearts and knows our desires, and He is powerful enough to move on our behalf if He choose to do so.
We must make the most of our opportunities.
The word “redeem” means that it costs something. Redeeming is buying ALL that is available to buy. Redeeming is not allowing the suitable moment to pass by unheeded. “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.” – 2 Corinthians 12:15
We have right NOW. This season in which we are will not last forever. It is only for a time. There are some needs that only WE can meet for our loved ones. If we do not fulfill our responsibilities, those who need us to do the right thing WILL GO WITHOUT! What a heartbreaking thought this is! Instead, we must straighten out our priorities by living with eternity in mind. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” – Galatians 6: 9-10
We should get God “on the line” during our morning devotions but “shoulder the phone” and keep communicating with Him throughout the day. We must turn to Him, not to the world, for strength. Let us consider to whom we find ourselves turning in those moments of stress. Is it a women’s magazine or blog? Do we turn toward television to zone out of our troubles? Do we turn to chocolate for instant gratification? Although a good piece of dark chocolate is great on a rough day, we must shut off our flesh from the hectic goings-on for a moment, and line our spirits back up with our Saviour. Hershey’s cannot even come close to the Holy Spirit!
Each area of our lives needs attention, and each area needs to be approached through our relationship with the Lord. The wheel below is an example list of sorts, showing different responsibilities that rotate throughout our day. At different stages in our lives, different priorities will be more paramount than others.
In a case of mistaken identity and faulty reporting, an extremely wealthy man named Alfred Noble was announced dead in an 1888 newspaper. The obituary went on to describe Alfred Noble as the “merchant of death” since his massive fortune was built by him harnessing the destructive power of nitroglycerin. This unflattering eulogy was a sad wake up call to poor Alfred, who was not in fact dead; rather, it was his brother Ludvig who actually had died. The newspaper corrected its error, but a memorial of violence haunted Alfred, prompting him to make a drastic change in his will. He desired to use his wealth for a positive legacy and thus was founded the Noble Peace Prize, intended to recognize the best of human achievements. What would others say about us at our funerals? It might show where our priorities truly were!
A Christian’s priority:
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – Matthew 6:33
A Christian lady’s priorities:
“…to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” – Titus 2:4b-5
Let us not just list our priorities, but LIVE them! Would the hours we spend each day reflect what our true priorities should be? If not, let us form new habits that do!