Redeeming the Time

by Mary White, TCS Grammar Academic Director


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Redeeming the Time

This past week I found myself unexpectedly snowbound in Memphis, Tennessee. I had traveled to the city with my family on a quick trip to introduce my high school daughter to Rhodes College. Ice and snow took the quick out of our trip, but the cold weather gave us warm family time. I am thankful for that. The winter storm also gave me a gentle reminder not to let the tyranny of the urgent keep me from spending time on who or what is truly important. Put another way, it gave me a look at time and how I am spending it.

C.S. Lewis once wrote, ““The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.” Time is a commodity which we can’t save. Not using it well then becomes as much of a problem as using it badly. However, the choices for time are vast and varied, and, in many cases, don’t feel like choices at all. How do we sort out what is important and what is not? As Christians, we thankfully can turn to the Lord and His word for those answers. The story of Mary and Martha as told in Luke 10:38-42 is one starting place.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (ESV).

This makes so much sense and sounds so good. However, the execution is a bit harder. How do we sit at Jesus’ feet when bills need to be paid, work deadlines need to be met, meals need to be prepared, children need to be home-schooled, and errands need to be run? The answer may be as simple and as profound as a daily quiet time.

Sarah Young’s daily devotional book Jesus Calling directly addresses this issue on February 10. It is not a good use of time for me to attempt to paraphrase what she has written so well. So, I am including her short devotional here in its entirety.

“Trust me enough to spend ample time with Me, pushing back the demands of the day. Refuse to feel guilty about something that is so pleasing to Me, the King of the universe. Because I am omnipotent, I am able to bend time and events in your favor. You will find that you can accomplish more in less time, after you have given yourself to Me in rich communion. Also, as you align yourself with My perspective, you can sort out what is important and what is not.

Don’t fall in the trap of being constantly on the go. Many, many things people do in My Name have no value in My kingdom. To avoid doing meaningless works, stay in continual communication with Me. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.” ― Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

This takes care of the present and future. However, what about the past?  There is no doubt that time, in the form of past lessons learned, can be a great teacher. The early modern American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote, “The years teach much the days never know.” However, these lessons learned can be painful and even damaging when sin is involved. In William Shakespeare’s play Richard II, a character laments, “I wasted time, and now doth time waste me.” All of us have probably felt this type of regret in some way. Can past time be redeemed?

Thankfully, when any needed repentance is present, the answer is “yes.” Joel 2:25a  reads, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (ESV).

With that hope in our hearts and the Lord on our side, we can spend the time we are given today and everyday prayerfully and joyfully. Let us begin.