Time is one of those things that you can never get back. We all have an appointed time to live, and we will not see another second of it. Everyone has a certain purpose to live for on this earth, and when that purpose is accomplished, our time is done (Acts 13:36). No magic wand will ever be able to reclaim the time you wasted yesterday. You will never be able to make up the time that you have wasted when you needed to be doing something important. Time is slowly ticking away for each of us, and we must decide how we are going to spend what is left of the time given us.
Paul told the Ephesian church, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15-16). This world has seen numerous people who have walked unwisely, but it is remarkable that Paul equated wise walking or living to someone who makes the best use of time given to him. The Apostle revealed that there are plenty of ways to use our time in this life, but a most effective option of using our time always exists. Plenty of opportunities will present themselves to us on how to waste time, but we must acknowledge that God has the right and the ability to deem what is the best use.
The Puritans didn’t speak of spending time. They spoke of redeeming the time. Just like when Paul told the Ephesians to make the most of their time, the Puritans saw each actual second as a gift that must be spent carefully. When it comes to time, balance is key. Don’t work so much that you don’t have time to play, but don’t play so much that you don’t have time to work. The time is limited and you can never get these days back. Choose wisely.
How do you redeem the time?
First, I would ensure that I made time for the one thing for which I am living – Jesus. Since Jesus is the most forgiving person in your life, you will oftentimes abuse his charitable love and put him off when rivaled by any other relationship. You understand that your friends, the person you are dating, your family, your boss, or your professors are not as forgiving as he, and so we regularly put him off. The times in my life when I made him a time priority, I did disappoint some people, but I also made better use of my time throughout the day because I did the most important thing first.
Second, don’t prioritize your schedule, learn to schedule your priorities. Wipe the slate clean. What is the most important things you can be a part of in your life right now? Then ruthlessly get rid off filler stuff until you can do those things. Don’t waste your life. Figure out how you can give back and do whatever it takes to enable yourself to serve your King on this earth.
Third, pick one or two Christian groups to join. I did not say go to a Christian group; I want you to join it. Live with those people. Serve with those people. Cry and laugh with those people. If you are busy going to too many events, you will never belong to any group. The first group should be a local church. Within that group, you should find a smaller group of people to do life with. Within this group, you should look to do two things: 1) challenges you, and 2) gives you a place to serve. If that group can truly help you grow in Christlikeness and allow you to serve, you have found a place to belong.
Fourth, evaluate your schedule. One week, literally record everything you did on a weekly calendar. See how much time you wasted or rushed through the day. Could you have planned better for projects that were coming up? Did you take adequate time to enjoy God-given relationships? In the last week, did you worship, work, and play?
Finally, start looking for ways to eliminate time-wasters. I am not telling you not to enjoy hobbies or a movie or a lazy Saturday afternoon. I am encouraging you to use those times wisely as well as remove any time-wasters that could keep you from doing God’s will. I let things pile up on me, but recently, I have started developing some rules so that I can redeem the time.
- Only handle a piece of paper once. If I’m going to open it, I’m either going to file it or trash it.
- Only handle an email once. If I have time to read it, I had better make time to respond to it. If I don’t, I will have read an email that gets buried, and I won’t respond to it till weeks later.
- Only handle a voicemail once. If I’m going to listen to it, I had better have time to respond to it. If the person who left a message is going to take a long time, I have to intentionally leave time for it.
- Play and play well, but only after the work is done. I have worked to restore the Sabbath in my life. I am working like crazy for six days, and then having the time of my life on the seventh day. What I have found is that I enjoy the six days a whole lot more now.
- Don’t neglect the present reality. I often will get distracted by something way off in the future while procrastinating what has to be done that day. Choose your tasks wisely.
- Turn off distractions. Even while I am writing these words, my phone is ringing and my email reminder is popping up telling me someone else needs my attention, but right now, you, the reader, are more important to me, and I must shut those things off to concentrate (OK, that’s better now).
- Always prioritize the important over the trivial. Find out what is the best way to use this day, and live it up.
After all, we’ve only got today once, and then it’s gone. We had better spend this time wisely.
Excerpt from Freshman 15.