"See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is." Eph. 5:15-17 (NKJV)
"So watch your step. Use your head. Make the most of every chance you get. These are desperate times! Don't live carelessly, unthinkingly. Make sure you understand what the Master wants." Eph. 5:15-17 (Message)
"To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven." Eccl. 3:1
"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us." Gandalf the Grey in The Fellowship of the Ring, by J.R.R Tolkien
After my last post, which I admit was a bit melodramatic, even for me, Ephesians 5:16 (quoted above) kept coming to my mind: "Redeeming the time, for the days are evil." My dad used to quote that to me all the time when I was a kid. I got the impression that it meant I shouldn't be wasting time, but doing something good with it.
Since I seemed to be having trouble lately "redeeming" my time (or, in fact, doing anything at all with it), I decided to look the verse up and find the context. What does it mean to redeem time? And how do you do that?
I found it in the NKJV, but it still didn't make much sense to me. It wasn't until I looked it up in the Message that it really hit home. Was the reason I was losing time because I was living "carelessly, unthinkingly," not understanding "what the Master wants"? I felt like I did try to find out what God wanted. After all, part of the reason I was feeling so low was that, somehow, despite all my determination, I was not being able to read the Bible as much as I felt I should. But I suddenly became very aware that I was doing it all on my own. Instead of saying, "God, show me what you want me to do," I was saying, "I know what God wants me to do, so I need to do it." Big difference. So, after reading those verses, I prayed, "God, please help me redeem my time. Please show me what you want me to do."
Less than a week later, my tiny baby daughter, only 2 months old, was in the hospital with RSV/bronchiolitis. She was having trouble breathing. For a couple of days, I was very, very afraid she was going to die. Those were the longest couple of days of my life. Suddenly, time wasn't so short anymore...
I had forgotten that in order for something to be redeemed, it first must be completely submitted to God. That whole passage in Ephesians is talking about how to submit to God and to each other. I have a tendency to take a lot of responsibility on myself. Some would probably say it's an oldest child thing. Whatever the case, I was sure somehow I needed to do something to change my own life, instead of trusting God to do it. And when my daughter got sick, and there was nothing I could do to help her, I broke down completely.
There was one point in which I was almost sure she was dying. I locked myself in our hospital room's bathroom and cried out to God. "Please, please let me keep her. I know she's yours. We gave her to you before she was even born and right now I'm giving her to you again. If you want to take her, then I'll accept that. But, please, please, please let me keep her. I don't want to give her up yet."
Not long after that, my daughter finally started to take a turn for the better, though we ended up staying another four days in the hospital, all of which gave me plenty of time to think.
Some lessons, like the lesson of submission and surrender to God of everything in our lives, whether our time or our children, need to be relearned again, and again, and again.
God had to shout really loud that time to get my attention. But he did.
I'm not saying everything's perfect now. There are still times when, instead of remembering that there's a time for everything and we just need to ask what God wants us to do with the time he gives us, I'll start beating myself up about what I did or did not do with my time on a given day. But I'm remembering a little more often now that it's not my time, it's his time. If he wants to give me a little, or a lot, that's up to him. I'll just try to use whatever he gives me in a way that pleases him.