making the very most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil (Ephesians 5:16 AMP).
A few things that make each person distinct are: nationality, skin color, language, age, height, weight, personality, social status, financial status, jobs, size of families, place of residence, background, religion.
Many of these things we were born with and cannot change. Only those things we have control over can be changed such as where we live, whom we marry, where we go to school, what career we choose and the God we trust.
There is one thing that is common to all and that in one sense is something that we do not have control over and yet in another sense we do. Time. None of us knows exactly how much time we have on earth. Only God knows that. And yet each of us chooses how we spend every minute, every hour and every day.
Time can be wasted and once lost, it is gone forever. It cannot be retrieved. Time can also be used productively – even in circumstances where we seem to just be “marking time”, God may be using that time for teaching us something or preparing us for a task in the future.
Preparation time is never wasted time.
God’s story – the Bible – contains many records of how preparation time resulted in accomplishing His will. There was a purpose for time alone and time in the waiting room. These can be times of learning patience, listening to God speak and developing a closer relationship with Him.
Think of these biblical examples.
Joseph’s being sold into slavery and spending time in prison – unjust though it was – prepared him to save God’s chosen people from famine. But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive (Genesis 50:20).
Job’s determination to not say anything against God – even though his suffering was intense and unexplainable – brought him to a greater understanding of the God he loved. …”we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:10). “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you…”(Job 42:5).
David’s years as a shepherd boy prepared him not only for the encounter with Goliath but also his compassionate years as king of Israel. Certainly, David was not perfect, but his psalms were filled with his determination to follow God. The Lord is my shepherd…I will fear no evil…I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever (Psalm 23). Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You (Psalm 56:3).
Nehemiah’s faith in God and his assurance of God’s faithfulness to him prepared him for the incredible task of rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. He prayed and worked, prayed and worked, prayed and worked until the task was completed. “I pray, Lord God of heaven, O great and awesome God, You who keep Your covenant and mercy with those who love You and observe Your commandments, please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night…“(Nehemiah 1:5-6).
God prepared a beautiful and humble Israelite orphan girl to replace an arrogant pagan queen to save His people from annihilation. Her uncle told Esther, “For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14).
Of course, the best example we have that preparation time is not wasted is Jesus. In the silent years before His public ministry, He was subject to Mary and Joseph and increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men (Luke 2:51-52). While He was preparing for the most painful and sacrificial assignment anyone has ever been given, he was learning and teaching others what He was learning from the Father….”But I have called you My friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father – I have revealed to you everything I have learned from Him” (John 15:15 Amplified). So even though Jesus was God’s Son, he learned obedience from the things he suffered (Hebrews 5:8 NLT).
In the early part of 2020, the entire world experienced something no one could ever have anticipated – a greater amount of unstructured time as many people were quarantined or requested to shelter in place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Every person had a choice about what to do with that unstructured time. Some allowed their tempers to flare. Others used the opportunity to mend family relationships. Some children earned a new respect for parents who were forced to homeschool them for a period of time. Some complained. Others prayed. Everyone, however, had the same opportunity to learn from God, listen to Him, and watch for opportunities to use what they learned.
© Stephanie B. Blake, March 2020
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations came from NKJV
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