Friday, February 20, 2015

Making The Best of Time

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                One of my favorite places to sit on an airplane is right next to the window. I like to watch as the ground gets farther and farther away until all you can see are miles and miles of country stretching out below you. Last night, as I flew home from Iowa back to my home in North Carolina I watched as each state got farther and farther away.  It was then that I was reminded of how little time we have on this earth. This visit home was not for vacation or for joyous reasons; it was for a time of weeping and sorrow as we said good-bye to our beloved Aunt. As I watched the houses, the farmlands, and the lives of the people below get smaller and smaller I realized how many
opportunities I had to stay in touch with her, but I didn’t. I made the excuses that my life was busy. I made the excuse that it was hard because we lived so far away from each other. I rarely go home to Iowa, and when I do it is usually a brief visit, giving me the excuse that there just isn’t enough time to see and visit with everyone.
                But time is a gift, a gift we have been given by God to use wisely, to use according to His desires and His will. Time is not ours, it is not something we have it- is something we have been given. I saw and reconnected with family that I hadn’t seen in years. We have been in North Carolina almost eighteen years now, and when we left, everyone was much younger- including me. I saw cousins that I used to babysit, now have children of their own; they are married and have careers. I saw Aunts and Uncles, cousins and family friends, who are greyer and much older than I remember them. Time moves whether we like to admit it or not. The harsh reality that I faced this trip was that the time that I had been given so far had not been spent as wisely as I could have spent it.
                “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.”
Colossians 4:5 (ESV)
                You see, I had time and opportunity to pick up the phone and call my Aunt more often. I had time and opportunity to write her an email, or to send her a birthday card, to share with her the wonderful God that I know- but I didn’t. My Aunt was a lover of Jesus, and many times I had the opportunity to learn from her years of walking with Him, but I did not seize them when I had the chance. I let that time just slip on by. I think what hurt the most, as I said my good-bye’s to her was that I didn’t make more of an effort to tell her I loved her, to show her how much I appreciated all those years of support, love, and prayers that she poured into my life. I may have lived 1100 miles away, but I have always owned a phone, and the post office still works. I regret not taking more time to tell her that I loved her. I regret not sharing with her the amazing work of God in my life, for I know how much she would have loved to hear it. I know that because I chose to fill my time with other things, I missed out on some amazing things God could have given me through her.
              Paul writes to the Colossians and he tells them that they need to walk in wisdom toward outsiders. When I first read this I thought about all of my unsaved family members. My nephew and my niece up home in Iowa who need the grace and mercy of a loving Savior in their lives, and how many missed opportunities I have let go past when I could have seized those same moments to tell them about His grace. I thought about my sister and my dad, who have knowledge of God, but not according to wisdom, they know about Him, but they do not know Him. They know of Him, but they do not have a relationship with Him. I think about all my family here in the south and up there in the north that need Jesus just as much as I do. Have I been walking wisely towards them? Have I been seizing those opportunities to share Jesus with them? Have I been “redeeming the time”? (Colossians 4:5 NKJV)
                Just as quickly as the Midwest disappeared from sight and the southeast came into my window seat view, these past eighteen years have to. It seems like just yesterday that I was running over to my Aunt’s house to steal her homemade noodles off the table, or to ask her to sew the hole in my jeans before my mother saw them. It seems like just yesterday that I was sitting at her kitchen table getting instructions on how to make her famous Black Forest Cake. It seems like just yesterday she was handing me some of the family’s German recipes (from the Old Country). It seems like only yesterday.
                But that is the lesson and the point I believe the Lord wanted me to see this past trip to Iowa. There is never time to put off till tomorrow what we know needs to be done today. He has given us twenty- four hours to spend wisely, and for His glory. He has given us opportunity after opportunity to pick up the phone and call that loved one we have lost touch with, or that friend we haven’t spoken to since high school. He gives us twenty-four opportunities a day to tell someone about the love and grace and mercy that He has given to anyone who would believe in Him. But are we using this time that He has given us to the best of our ability? Or are we making excuses? Are we letting opportunity pass us by because we are “too busy” or we just don’t want to swallow our pride and forgive them? Are we making the best use of the precious resource God has given us?
                To redeem the time means that we are making use of this time wisely, and holding close to us the days we have been given. We only have a short time upon this earth. This truth is more real to me today than it was yesterday. As I hugged and cried with family and friends, the regret of not seizing those opportunities weighed in on me. God is the Author of time, and we are its stewards. It is important to Him how we spend what He has given us. We have only been promised today, there is no promise of a tomorrow, all we have been given are the twenty- four hours we have now. How we use them will either be for His glory or for our own selfish gain. We can either wisely use these precious hours or we can spend them on a shopping spree of self.
                “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15 (ESV)
                Make the best use of the time that God has given you. Today is all that we have. I had opportunities, I had time to pick up the phone and call my Aunt, but I chose not to. The time that we have been given is to be used wisely. If we are foolish then we will choose to use our time our way and not God’s way. If we choose to walk wisely then we will take every opportunity we are given to bring glory to Him and to not let that moment pass to tell someone how much they mean to us. We won’t let those moments in time slip away like the wind; we will seize them, grab hold of them and use them for His glory.
                “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is as nothing before You; certainly every man at his best state is but vapor.” Psalm 39: 4-5 (NKJV)

                We are but a vapor on this earth, our life is but for a moment in the eyes of our God. He has given us twenty- four hours in one day to use to bring glory, honor and praise to Him. He has given us every opportunity to tell that person we love them, to send them a note, or an email, or a text and to stay connected.  I wasted so many opportunities, and now those opportunities are all gone. There is no more time with her, not until I see her again in the heavenly glory where we will praise and worship Jesus together. What are we spending our time on? If we are too busy for our loved ones, then perhaps we are too busy. Like the saying goes “if you are too busy for God, then you are too busy”. If the time we have been given is precious and a gift, are we using it to the best of our ability? Who in your life today is the Lord asking you to make time for? Who in your life today needs to know that you love them, that you are thinking of them, that you are praying for them? Don’t let today turn into tomorrow, because tomorrow is a place that we never will arrive at. Tomorrow never comes. Don’t let today slip by in the excuse of not enough time. God has given us twenty-four hours; we just have to use them wisely. Redeem the time today; seize those opportunities before they are too late. Don’t let it slip away, because one day, it may just be too late.