Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Time Well Spent

I was talking with a friend the other day about the commodity of time, and as I listened to her present its value to me from an eternal perspective, I became increasingly aware of how I spend my own time.  Since then I have been joyfully driving my husband crazy by letting him know that "I'm spent" (my newly adopted favorite phrase) when I have to spend too much of my time explaining something to him that I feel he should already have gotten.  My newly found appreciation for the time allotted to me each day has been the object of considerable amounts of teasing and playful eye rolling on his part, but I'm not dejected; instead I am inspired and encouraged to take fresh inventory of how I spend each of my days.  Though we all know that yesterday can never be retrieved or repeated or redone, we don't often spend time thinking about actual time as it is handed to us by God. But I think we should.  We take great note of the hundred dollar bill we spend at the grocery store or the donation we make to our church, but we fail to notice the five minutes we spend berating someone we love when they let us down or leave us disappointed.  The difference is - we can earn that hundred dollars back and receive double for what we gave to our church, but we'll never get back those five minutes.  How did you spend your last five minutes as you happened across this blog entry?  Was it time well spent?

When you go to the bank and withdrawal money, you usually already know in your mind how you're going to spend it, but do you wake up each day with the same focus concerning your time?  Every second you're alive, you are literally spending time and I find the best way to convey this message is by comparing it to monetary spending.  We seem to get that quite easily, so imagine that every second of your day is equivalent to one dollar so that in a 24 hour period you now have 86,400 dollar bills to spend. Like me, I imagine you will have no problem figuring out what you would spend it on, but take your mind to the bank of time.  In that bank is a certain amount of time that God has deposited into each of our accounts, but the difference is - we don't know the amount.  For someone in the world, this very second is the last one of their earthly life but for another the very first, and while one is now accounting to God for his time spent on earth, the other is only just beginning to spend. You can fill a financial bank with various fashions of money and watch it grow, but each of our time banks are filled with a one time deposit by God at our creation and as we move forward into life, we are, by the second and minute, spending the time He gave us - and we can't get back what we spend.

I had a lot of things to get done yesterday and felt the pressure of deadlines when I realized my son needed to stay home from school because he wasn't feeling well.  I knew that with him here, I wouldn't be able to work on my projects as efficiently as if he were at school, but I thanked Jesus for the extra time I was given to be with my son and asked Him how to get everything done.  At one point I was wrapped up so tightly in what I was working on that I almost missed it when my weepy, sniffling six year old told me he wanted to snuggle.  As I started to tell him to just "give me five more minutes" I remembered the fresh words spoken by my friend regarding the inability to recover time passed, and in that moment I realized that the most glorifying thing I could do for my Father in Heaven would be to stop what I was doing and snuggle with my child.  In serving my son I was best serving my Father, but oh how many times I've missed these precious moments of time hand delivered to me by God above.  In that moment, however, I spent time from my time bank well.

It's not enough to just catch a moment here or there, though.  Although it's remarkable when we do, we have the power inside of us through His Holy Spirit to actually live in constant awareness of how we spend our time. It's not an overnight commitment, but a lifetime learned practice.  I refuse to spend my time being angry, bitter, resentful, or judgmental.  What an utter waste of precious time, but how easy it is to spend frivolously on these things, right?  When we can adopt an eternal view of our time, it becomes much easier to cut through the negative emotions and reactions and just decide to spend it well.  There is nothing prophetically left in the Bible that has to take place before Jesus returns to this earth, and when He does I want to know that the time I was given to "spend," I spent in love and on love in His precious name.  I get it wrong a lot, but as I daily surrender to His leadership in my life, I'm starting to get it right more and more.  As the hand of God extends time to you, ask Him how He wants you to spend it, for once you do it's gone.  Spend it in love, not hate. Let go of resentment and spend time on forgiveness.  Forget about envy and spend a few minutes of the time you've been given in thankfulness and gratitude.  Move out of the last minute you spent on judgment over someone else's life and into this minute of mercy and compassion for your fellow fallen man.  Don't look at time as a day on the calendar that is always moving forward; learn to see it from an eternal perspective, and once you do you'll start noticing a difference in how you're willing to spend and not spend your time.  Spend the time God gives you each day in the joy He died for you to have, the love He gave you to share, and the forgiveness He expects you to extend - and when your time has been completely spent and He asks you to account for it, make sure it was time well spent.

"No man knows when his hour will come.." - Ecclesiastes 9:12

Image taken from warnermemorial.org

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