Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Best Use of the Time

This verse has been kicking my tail lately-- Ephesians 5:15-16:

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Specifically, the bolded part.

The verse makes me ask these three questions: How can I carefully walk in the time I'm given? How can I be wise with the time I'm given? How can I best use the time I'm given?

I've been trying to examine where I spend my time-- in the home-- how am I using my time? While out in the community, how am I using my time? While online, how am I using my time? When my husband's home, how am I using that time? It's hard to do this kind of evaluation, because it (at least in my case) reveals an inefficiency that is easier left alone than dealt with.

Just this morning, I was listening to an Alistair Begg sermon (I love him by the way-- his Scottish accent is just like the icing on the cake of his great teaching!) called "Laziness". He talked about how laziness is a character quality that only snowballs in our lives. We are highly unlikely to one day get up and begin being productive and efficient in our every day lives if we have cultivated an attitude of laziness, sloth, and convenience. He compared it (overcoming laziness) to a mountain we have to climb in life-- only it's a growing mountain. The longer we wait, the higher it gets and more difficult it is to climb it and overcome that weakness in our lives.

Now, in comparison to where I was five years ago, I am a much more efficient homemaker, cook, mother, and wife. But I still waste time on the internet, still spend too much time "playing" and end up "playing" catch-up on household duties because I slacked, and still find that I'm not as efficient and hard-working as I ought to be. So I have things I need to be more careful about... for example, being sure I start the day with a hard-working attitude (because I've found that so much more gets done when I start the day that way). And I need to spend more time on the floor with my kiddos, playing and spending time with them in a way that is meaningful for them.

More specifically though, on this question of using my time, the verse talks not just about carefully using the time, but WISELY using the time. To me that implies making the most Christ-honoring choices with how I'm using my time. Sometimes, that will mean efficiency but sometimes that will mean setting aside the chores and intentionally "playing" with my children with love and building our relationships at the forefront of my mind. Additionally, it will undoubtedly mean saying "no" to some very, VERY good things.

For example, I've been a part of an online parenting forum for a while. But it's taking my time. Time with my family. It's a lovely place to go to talk with other women-- interesting, funny, godly women-- and yet, it's taking my time. I have other places online that I'd prefer to go with the stint of "free" time I have online... so aside from specific questions I might have or issues that might arise, I've decided not to go back there. It's a hard decision-- my arrow often wants to point on that bookmark. But I'm not going back there to just "kill" time.

But I should specifically say this: in the last year of our lives, going through culture shock, pregnancy hormones and all the rest, that place was a good place for me-- a place of fellowship and encouragement-- so don't hear me wrong on this-- I'm not dissing online friendships or forums or saying it's evil or that everyone else needs to quit or anything else. What I am saying is this: for me, at this time, this is the wise choice for me-- to quit "killing time" at that particular online "place".

How can I make the best use of the time? It's a hard question to answer. And the more demands there are on our time, the more clear our priorities must be in our minds so that we can choose wisely how to use these moments we're given. But even if we're not always sure of the "best" use of our time, I'm sure for each of us, there is at least something we can do to make better use of the time...

I'd love to hear from each of you. Is this a struggle for you? Perhaps your struggle is the opposite-- maybe you are too rigid and need to deviate from your schedule occasionally in order to be flexible to what God asks of you throughout the day. But I'd be interested to hear how this verse may have specific implications for your life.

[Incidentally, the first day that I recently came across this verse, I went to my bloglines account and found that Randy Alcorn had written an article about it as well. His is VERY challenging and very well worth your time. It's called, "Planned Neglect: Saying No to the Good Things So We Can Say Yes to the Best". You'll not regret having read his thought-provoking article, even if it does take your time. ;-) ]


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