They say that time is money. It is, but it is also far more valuable than money. You can always make more money. Time is a constant. It ticks by second by second, day after day, year after year. Once gone, there is no regaining it.
Paul tells us to redeem the time. (Ephesians 5:16) Redemption is a term that goes back to slavery days. It is to buy back something that was yours before. God is our Redeemer. We were God's by right of Creator. But we were lost to sin and death. Until Jesus Christ bought us back by paying the price of His own blood.
How do we redeem our time? How can we buy it back? The verses surrounding "redeeming the time" say, "see then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, redeeming the time because the days are evil. Wherefore, be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is." (Ephesians 5:15-17) Walking circumspectly is to pay attention to all circumstances that may relate to an action. It is prudence and caution. Walking circumspectly as far as time goes, would be to realize that once time is spent, it is spent forever. Realizing the finality of that truth places a premium on your time. And should it should promote caution as to how to spend time. It also says that we need to understand what the will of the Lord is. What is God's will for me? For my family? For my time? Ask God for understanding and direction.
I think we need to be regularly evaluating just where our time is going. This goes back to the wholetime squared idea. I have found myself avoiding certain tasks lately until they are urgent, just because I don't want to do them. Avoidance robs us of time on several levels. First, you have guilt hanging over your head because you aren't doing what you should be doing. That makes what you are spending your time at much less enjoyable, than if you just bit the bullet and did what you had to do. Also, I have found that when I am avoiding a task, I also waste time doing other things I wouldn't normally spend time doing. Like playing mind numbing computer games, or scrolling through every Pinterest category, or catching up on the life doings of every one of my friends on Face Book. And when the avoided task finally makes it to the unavoidably urgent and important classification, you have to buckle down and do it, causing a domino affect whereby you end up bumping other things to that category also. You can't do what you should be doing because you are doing what you HAVE to be doing. But, if I just do each thing as it comes up, there would be much less stress.
As I once again evaluate my time spending, I am looking at a few criteria...
1)What can I do now, to save myself stress later? This would involve tax paperwork monthly instead of twice annually. Major baking on Thursdays and Fridays, when I have less other stuff to do. Using my crockpot.
2)How can I avoid doing something twice? A huge time thing for me is showering. (I know, tmi). It isn't that I take long showers, because having 4 kids has streamlined that to under 10 minutes. The question is when? Do I shower first thing in the day, then run later, and then shower again? What a waste of time! Or do I sit in my grunge all day, until I get around to running. Time saver. But, most efficient, is running early, and be done with it all. Except I need sleep too.
3)Prioritize...what is the most important?
My devotion/study time. I have to be fed to feed.
Schooling. I don't want to raise illiterate kids. And on a positive note, I think this is our best year to date.=)
Cooking. We have to eat multiple times a day, every day.
Exercise. It keeps me healthy, happy, and strong.
Sleep. I need 8-9 hours every night, or I can't function.
Cleaning. Every week the house needs cleaned, for my sanity and health. I can't live in dust. I am allergic.
Time with Brian. Daily. We need to connect.
Reading. I love to read. But it tends to get squeezed into the leftover cracks these days.
Blogging. I am making this a priority. It comes before reading, and cleaning, but not much else.
4)How does God want me spending my time? How would God want my activities to be prioritized?
All these are all things I need to fit in on pretty much a daily basis. And with sleep taking an average of 8 hours, that leaves me 16 hours to work with. I redeem the time by doing some things simultaneously. Blogging happens during school. I sit at the table, while they are at the table. Reading happens while feeding Meredith. And docking my iPod around 8:30 helps me get in good reading time each day. I can read for 30-60 minutes, and still be lights out by 9:30. Exercise takes 1-1/2 hours on a swim day-but I am showered, and hair done, and ready to go on my day by 6:30. Running is taking 60-90 minutes 3-4 times a week, plus showering on top of that. Time...everything you spend time on, you take from something else you could spend time on. I like a clean house, but I am only willing to spend a minimum of time on it every week. It usually takes me around 3-4 hours to clean my whole house. And that is all the time I am devoting to it. Other things are more important to me than being able to eat off the floors. (The bigger priority is vacuuming/sweeping the floors so there is nothing for Meredith to eat off the floor=))
The way I see redeeming the time, is to not waste the time I am given. Limit my fb time, and my iPod time, even my blogging time. And use my time for eternal weight things. My study time. Prayer and Bible reading keep me grounded and dependent. I try to get them in first thing. Then investing in my relationships-husband, kids, and friends. And then a time miracle happens...God multiplies my time. As I go about the tasks for the day, I have time to do everything I need to do, and generally also time to do what I want to do. When you put God first, He, the one who transcends time, stretches out your time.
I know my priorities are not your priorities. But I'm betting that my time struggle is your time struggle. We each need to evaluate to what we are going to give our time. We need to ask what God wants us to devote our time to. And then we need to leave the rest with Him.
What will you do with it?