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February 17, 2009

Time Well Spent

My laptop crashes to the tile, a work-at-home mother's nightmare scenario. I turn from my cutting board to see the recipe-bearing screen lying face-down on the floor. The cord, left within my 15-month old daughter's reach, had proved too enticing.

I had to replace the trashed hard drive and rebuild the laptop (serious feat for tech-rookie me). Two days, four hundred dollars, and some lost data later, I was back up and running. But it was trying to re-connect the printer back that really brought me to my knees.

Hour after hour I did battle with my HP - installing, uninstalling, rebooting - to no avail. I seethed, raged, and re-doubled my efforts. The computer crash was expensive enough; I wasn't about to fund a new printer too! But each time, same error message: "connection attempt failed." I was irate.

Here's the thing: I loathe spending time doing things that bear no result. Loathe it. Built into my psyche is the belief that I should be able to make time work to achieve my goals. When I can't, I feel robbed and violated.

So I - not technology woes - I am the real problem.

"Beginning in the fourth century, the clock made us into time-keepers, then time-savers, then time-servers," wrote Neil Postman. "In the process, we've learned irreverence toward the sun and seasons, for in a world made up of seconds and minutes, the authority of nature is superseded." And the authority of God too.

With the clock we collude to wrongly view and misuse time. Its minutes tick by; we track, plan, fill them. Time is our commodity - we own it and choose how we'll use it. But it's a lie. God owns time, not us. He gives it to us as a trust for us to steward. So we get a say but not the say in its use.

There are two ways in which we - certainly I - most often dishonor God by wrongly interacting with time.

1. My time is my own, so leave me alone. If I want to spend free time relaxing, watching TV, playing video games, online? what's it to you, or to God? They aren't sins, and relaxing in our over-stressed culture is important.
We do live in an overscheduled and hurry-ridden world, and rest is important (and even commanded). But our society is also overly indulgent and makes every conceivable pleasure readily available for unmitigated wallowing.

If time is God's, then how we use it demands consideration. How would God view our spending hours in front of the TV or poking around on Facebook each night? Such uses of time may well land us the reproach received by the servant who buried his talent in the ground instead of investing it. The master called him "wicked" and "lazy" - two descriptors I hope to avoid when I meet God face to face one day.

2. My time is God's and matters a lot, so let's get ultra-productive. So much to do! I should get more involved in ministry, invest more in relationships, read more, serve more? How can I make the day serve these goals?

We are called to use the time we're given intentionally and well. But this approach causes us to become manic about our hours, striving to bend them to serve our efforts and schedules. The attempt to subjugate and control time leaves us stressed and proud. We cease to rest in Christ and look to ourselves instead of God to order and direct our days.

As seen in the printer episode, I often fall into this camp. When my time is wasted I feel wronged. I become greedy for the time I've lost.

But what do "wasted" and "lost" mean when the time's not mine anyway? Who knows what God may be doing in times that to me appear useless? Take Paul and his months in prison. Talk about an apparent time-waster. I'm fretting over a few miserable hours hunched over my printer while he's imprisoned unjustly for years. Couldn't God have used Paul more fruitfully elsewhere? Evidently not.

In the end, we edge God out in both scenarios. The self-indulgent person is too lazy and distracted to seek God diligently. And the overly busy person's hours are too full and her mindset too fragmented to seek God diligently. Whether we let time slip idly by or do a power-grab at it - either way, we aren't keeping God at the center.

The Psalmist writes: "But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ?You are my God.' My times are in your hands." (31: 14-15) God is trustworthy. As we intentionally and willingly return our times - our days, hours, minutes - to his hands, He will ensure that, from an eternal standpoint, they are perfectly spent.


The paradox comes in sermons we hear about stewardship of time (along with talents and treasure) as if time were the asset entrusted to us by God. However, time isn't the true asset entrusted to us. It's only a means to a greater good. The true asset entrusted to us as stewards is God's name. And our true purpose as stewards is to use those means (time, talents, and treasure) to point others to the God we serve.

Leroy Hurt

This so relevant in my life, it is not funny! God guided me to read this...

I am teaching 3 new classes which mean that I have to be steps ahead of my students. Figuring out how to takes hours. I am studying toward a degree as well, distance learing. Don't know if that is more flexible. Spending enough time on these important things alone is challenging, let alone spending enough time with my husband. I praise God that children are not yet part of this picture...

Will bookmark this page to serve as reminder to use time as good as I can, trusting God to guide me!!!

In response to Mr. Hurt's comment, I wonder if God's name is an "asset"? Might this be a materialistic approach to the relationship God offers us?

My understanding of God's name is that it represents God Himself. The greatest gift we are given is God Himself in Jesus Himself. The Holy Spirit of God draws us to be with God at all times, working or resting. I echo Mrs. Arico's reflection on time. Am I mindful of Emanuel-"God with me" -at all times?

When I am aware that my time is His, then there is no wasted time. I am with the One who "IS WHO HE IS". I carry that with me wherever I go, and can thereby steward and share the Light of Christ. Let us abide in Him, and make disciples of all nations, whether we are at work or at rest.

The Lord gave me a word last night at our bi monthly women's service about

Ecclesiastes 3:11
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

The time is his. We want to control our time. He created the time and is the only one who can gives us the wisdom to manage it. We need to stop ... be still ... and know that He is God ... let's listen to his voice ... now!

Wow. I appreciate these fresh insights to the false thinking that my time is my own. Thank you.

In this season of lent, perhaps rather than focusing on fasting food, we should fast from our "time robbers," and fill that time with what God directs our time should be filled with.

I have been "wasting time" recovering from a car accident for three weeks. This article along with wise words from others has helped me to appreciate the opportunity to spend some quality time with God. I am trusting that I have this time at home now for a reason. Thanks for this "timely" article.

This is a constant battle sometimes I think more so for Christians than those who are not believers yet. We see the needs and desire to fill them or see that someone fills them. The real question is "do we trust God with our time?" God wants a relationship with us. Leading others or doing things should only come out of that relationship. It's very easy to get that out of balance. After all there is only one letter difference between good and God.

I remember reading somewhere that Dr. Billy Graham thought he should have won more souls to Christ. That was such a downer for me because if Dr. Graham is dissatisfied with his life, how can anyone else's life be considered "well lived"? In my role as Founder of a ministry that funds biblical resources and scholarships for women, I can really depress myself by dwelling on all the women I haven't helped yet as compared to the ones we have reached. So I think Dr Billy Graham should celebrate his life. And I think that when we offer God our daily lives as our form of worship and sacrifice, we need to kick off our shoes and bask in His delight. I think we need to take the time to hear Him say, "This is my beloved in whom I am well pleased." I think the temptation to do robs us from the delight to be God's daughter. Sometimes, God just wants to visit and enjoy the visit without feeling rushed!

We live in a day that for convenience and lack of patience, TIME is of the essence and that becomes a real hinderance when the Lord wants us to wait patiently for Him as He works out the issues in our life. Can you imagine how many blessings we have missed simply because we were to busy to wait for them? Lamentation 3:25

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