How much time do you waste throughout the day? You might say none, as you usually spend it how you choose to do so. Then again, you might add up all the time you spend waiting in lines, dealing with surprise technical or mechanical problems, or doing other things you don’t want to do, but have to. You may also look back on the day and, in hindsight, realize you spent more time than you should have just surfing on the computer, watching a pointless TV show, or playing games. After watching a bad movie, I often say ‘that was 2 hours of my life I’ll never get back.’ If you could redeem all those hours wasted on any number of things through your life, what would you do with them instead?
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12
Ask anyone in their 50’s and beyond what regrets they have in life, and they will likely tell you about missed opportunities and time spent on selfish endeavors instead of with those they love. We can look back years or decades to when we were young and long for the good old days, but we may also realize that we may not have used our time as wisely in any number of areas. What advice would you tell your 18 year old self that would have served you better in the future? Do you share this same advice with your children or any others who could learn from your wisdom?
Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is. You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Psalm 39:4-5
In the books and movies, when someone has a chance to go back in time, they often want to reveal winning sports teams or lottery numbers, so they can ‘win’ at what they think will improve their lives. More money doesn’t always solve our problems. We have all probably wasted money on things we later regret and are not able to recoup it, but hopefully have learned from some poor decisions. What things have you invested in with your time, energy, or money that have proven fruitful, or that have been a bad investment. Can you tell the difference now? What opportunities have you wasted that you wish you could do-over? Maybe you could have shared some nuggets of truth with someone and you let that chance slip away. Take advantage of the next opportunity. You can’t usually go back and have a do-over, but what good can come of these lessons? Learn from it and try not to repeat the experience? Share your mess-ups with others, so they can learn, if pride does not keep you from doing so.
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Ephesians 5:15-16
We may look at some people and not even give them a chance because of their dress, history, attitude, or any number of things. There may be some hopeless people out there (or in your own family) into whom you have invested much time, resources, prayer, etc and it doesn’t seem to make an ounce of difference. You may have said all the right or wrong things to them and they seem more hardened toward God or you than ever. You may have focused your attention elsewhere, but don’t give up hope, as even something as small as a mustard seed can grow and bloom in time. It was the 11th hour for both Christ and the man next to him on the cross, yet some drastic changes lie ahead shortly for each of them.
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:5-6
Like it or not, where you spend your time and money actually reveals where your true priorities lie. If I spend 9 hours each week in front of the tv or computer screen and 15 minutes reading or listening to scripture, it is evident what I truly value. Doing a time study or taking a quick inventory of where we actually spend our time can be quite revealing. If we feel something is misguided or not right in our lives, what can we do to change our priorities? It usually comes in 2 forms…several big changes all at once, or gradually. Making big changes can work, but often doesn’t stick (see New Year’s resolution success rates). If we make smaller, gradual changes one at a time, it is often more manageable and allows success to foster more successes. Also, if God impresses on you to make some changes, talk with Him regularly about it in prayer, and he can help guide you in the right direction. Also, regular accountability to a Christian brother can be a great motivator. I will be the first to confess that there are some patterns and things in my life that I do not like, so there is work to be done. May God continue the good work that he has started in us.
Yours in Christ,