I am a bit of a neat freak.
Those who have been to my house are probably scratching their heads, “I’ve seen Wyatt’s house, that doesn’t look like the product of a neat freak.” Alright, solid point guys. I have 3 boys, ages 4 and under, so my house rarely exhibits my ultimate goal of “spotless.” God bless those little men, but they can empty the toy bins much faster than I can fill them. But, for some reason, I still feel like I have to pick up every toy, put away every shoe, and have fresh vacuum lines on the carpet before their bedtime.
Of course, wanting a well-kept house is no sin and I remind everyone in my household that if we keep it tidy, we have more room for play and we won’t lose the toys we love. However, when I get home from a long day at work, and my sons want only to have their dad’s two eyes on them, to be wrestled, to drive cars on my back, or to be chased around, it is quite the disappointment when I spend their only two conscious remaining hours of the day… cleaning.
I wanted to study time for this post, because I have a genuine desire to surrender my time to the glory of our Father. But again, I’m not the best example. How I spend my time is like the broken cisterns that don’t hold water and I want to see that change. I need to invest that time in things that are eternal. I need to enjoy every moment of these young boys’ lives. I need to set a good example and be a dad who works hard but takes the time to delight in God and the gifts He’s provided. I also know that my boys and my wife aren’t the only ones sitting on the sidelines (sports language you won’t often hear from me) while I’m cleaning incessantly. God, is also patiently waiting for me to look up and realize that a deeper relationship with Him is right here.
With the chaos of our lives, it’s no secret that time gets away from us. We’re either wishing our life away for the next season to come, or we’re shaking our heads at how the time flies. Meetings, kids’ sports, friends’ weddings, and work take up chunks of our time we wish we had back. Even as you give your life to Christ, the new ways you serve your church and community start chipping away at your time. The busyness of our lives is often the topic of discussion, and we all wish we could slow down and just have some time.
But, what if things were to slow down? How would you spend that time anyway?
I think that we’re mistaken in a couple of ways – how we spend our time, and how we perceive time. Both things I intend to examine in this post, and lucky us they are both addressed in the good book.
How do you spend Your Time?
My closest friend Justin came to mind when I prayed over the topic of time. Justin has dedicated his life and vocation to ministry. He delivers the messages some Sundays at church, leads a ministry internship that is wildly successful, and rocks the drums like you wouldn’t believe. I thought of Justin because of his awareness of his time and how he uses it. Justin offered drum lessons for a while; supplementing his family’s income doing something that was truly a hobby. After a few months, he saw the time this was taking and his heart’s capacity. He ultimately decided that the best use of his time was to back away from providing drum lessons. It was so refreshing to hear him process this decision. He knew the time he had available, the relationships he was entrusted in ministry, and prayerfully considered what needed to give.
I asked Justin his thoughts on time and he shared the following;
Time is the most valuable gift you can give to someone because it’s the one thing you can never get back… knowing that it’s the most valuable gift I can give to others has definitely influenced my willingness to use it wisely and to invest in people who are going to be most affected by the time that I give to them. ˆ
As a close friend of Justin’s, I can certainly tell you that the time he gives is a gift.
(Please note the picture, he’s a joy to be around)
Justin truly listens. He inquires, he listens, he relates, he encourages and he provides biblical insight. The time he gives is truly a gift. So, the fact that he earnestly seeks to spend his time wisely for the kingdom of heaven, shows you really how genuine he is. If Justin places his time in something or someone that is not fruitful, he’ll make the tough decision to prioritize that time so that it’s used to serve God. What a great example of how we spend our time.
As men, we can really get selfish with our time. We work 40 plus hours a week to provide for our family, so you better believe we’ll take the entire weekend to serve ourselves if given the chance. This selfish use of our time is one way we’re not fulfilling our role as men of God. But, it’s really not the actual tasks taking our time – the football games, hiking, fishing, working in the yard – that we need to examine, but who we’re serving with those tasks.
In Mark, chapter 13 (talking about the Bible here, man) Jesus is discussing the destruction of Jerusalem with his disciples. After describing some graphic and less-than desirable occurrences, in verse 32 Jesus rattles out this gem:
“But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
As I mentioned in the intro to Calling All Men, there’s a lot at stake when christian men are asleep at the wheel. Here in Mark, Jesus is telling His disciples and you and me, to stay awake. My handy-dandy study bible described being “asleep” as a metaphor for a life of carelessness and laxity. So, Jesus tells us here that we have no idea when Jesus will return to claim what is His, but what we do know is how to conduct ourselves until that time.
We must stay awake, men.
Similarly, in Romans 13, right around verse 11, it says, “Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed.” Meaning, the time for Jesus to return is near and now is the time for us to wake up from our sleep – our lives of careless laxity.
Is this how we perceive time?
Do we wake from our sleep, expecting salvation to arrive? If we let these verses permeate our heart, and trust the reality that Jesus is coming and He’s coming soon, I think we’ll spend our hours very differently.
If this is truly how we perceived time, we would spend more of it in God’s word. We would make prayer a much larger part of our lives. We would take a minute to listen to our kids and to our friends and to our wives. We would invest much deeper and invite the Holy Spirit to interrupt our days. We would ultimately have our eye on our eternal reward, and turn our attention away from the earthly pleasures that tend to captivate us.
“Besides this,” (verse 11) isn’t just a quick little phrase I’ll overlook for the sake of a short blog post here either. If we back up to Romans 8, we’re given the way to fulfill the law – by loving each other. Verse 9 starts to list the commandments and says, “…and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’.”
So in our short time here, we fulfill the law by following the commandments, the greatest of which – loving our neighbor. We must wake from our sleep, and be intentional with how we spend our time, and who we are serving.
Your time watching the game on Sunday afternoons may not change, but the guy you invite to watch it with might. The conversations you have during the game might change. I might go to bed with a messy house, but I’ll have three boys exhausted from an evening of play. We also might end up eliminating activities from our life because they are simply not serving our Lord. When you surrender Your Time to God, there’s no telling what will change or what will stay the same. But, you’ll know that God will use you the way He intends.
2 Peter 3:8-9 reads:
But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.
How God perceives time is obviously different from ours. He is not slow to return, the way we understand slow.
He is patient.
And reflecting on what my friend Justin shared, time is the greatest gift you can give someone because you can’t get it back or earn more of it. God gave us time as a gift and I pray we’re using it to glorify Him, serve Him, and love each other.
Are you a good steward of your time? Are you serving God and others with your time, or are you serving yourself? In what ways could you change perspective to love more people and serve God with your time?