Sunday, February 24, 2008

Precious time

There's a guy I work with who likes to call me after meetings with frustrating clients. He'll say, "I just spent 3 hours of my life with so-and-so that I will never get back." We both respond with a hearty chuckle at the client's expense, but the underlying message rings true. Our time is precious.

So many of the issues I have as I strike out on my faith journey everyday seem to be related to time; my time; my precious time.

I asked someone on Friday if they could do something ... a task another person had told me was "a big undertaking, a big commitment." Without even pausing, he said, "Sure, that's doable."

I thought, hmmm, here's someone with an attitude I need to model.

I suppose it all comes down to the value we put on our time. We use expressions such as "That's time well spent," and "What a waste of time" and "Time is money." We convince ourselves that time is a precious commodity that is not to be "wasted" on just anything or anyone. Unfortunately, we often make these assessments through our own mind's eye instead of through the eternal viewpoint of God.

I bill my clients by the hour. Perhaps this has further contributed to my warped sense of what my precious time is worth. There is so much I want to accomplish everyday; things I must do, things I want to do. I would give anything to be able to stop time, make the sun stand still, as God did for Joshua. I'm very optimistic about what can and can't be completed in one 24 hour period (especially if you factor in sleep). So at the end of every day, I look around and often feel dissatisfied that "more" didn't get done.

I'm thinking back to my friend again; a man whose time has considerable value and is sought after by many people. He truly has the right to play the "I don't have time for that" card, but I haven't seen him do it yet.

So the lesson I take from this is I shouldn't be too quick to determine what is and isnt' worth "my time."

My life is a gift. Everyday, I wake up and go further into debt with the One who gave this gift to me. No matter how I strive to serve Him, I always come out in the hole by the time I lay my head back down on my pillow again. So how can I possibly live by the sentiment that some people have a right to my time and some don't?

So that was "ding ding ding" realization number one as I was sitting in church today -- my time is precious, but it doesn't belong to me.

Realization number 2 went something like this ... "This one's Mine..." I experienced this as I watched the women from the rehab facility who chose to be baptized or reaffirm their faith today. I thought, there's another one for the Kingdom, and another, and another. I thought, each one matters. Each one is worth the time, the effort, the stress, the hassle, the disappointment, the frustration. Each one is a gift. What if God had not placed these gifts in my life? What if I didn't have the amazing pleasure of watching people every single week make a life-changing decision, knowing that God was using me as one of the many instruments for bringing the women to this decision; a powerful, forever choice that has them stepping toward God and away from themselves? Wow, that just blew me away.

Realization number 3 went something like this ... I can change the world. Coming straight from realization number 2, I embraced this as I-Tammy can change the world. And I can, but not without "I Am."

This one hit me as our praise leader was singing an Eric Clapton song ... yes, Eric Clapton. The song is appropriately titled, "Change the World." Take a look...

If I could reach the stars
I'd pull one down for you
Shine it on my heart so you could see the truth
That this love I have inside is everything it seems
But for now I find it's only in my dreams

That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You will think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world

If I could be king even for a day
I'd take you as my queen
I'd have it no other way
And our love will rule in this kingdom we have made
Till then I'd be a fool wishin' for the day

CHORUS:That I can change the world
I would be the sunlight in your universe
You will think my love was really something good
Baby if I could change the world
Baby if I could change the world

My eldest son plays bass in the praise band. He remarked after church, "I like that song ... it's a fun song to play ... but it's a love song." He seemed to be hinting that it was some how weird to play it in church. I said, "Yes, a love song ... but it could be God singing it to you!" Geez, look at the chorus: "I would be the sunlight in your universe. You will think my love was really something good. Baby if I could change the world..."

It could also be a song we all sing to those who don't know Christ; a song I find myself singing every Wednesday: "If I could reach the stars, I'd pull one down for you. Shine it on my heart so you could see the truth. That this love I have inside is everything it seems. But for now I find it's only in my dreams..." In many ways, I understand Paul's description of himself as pleading with people to accept the gospel.

The memory verse for this week from my personal Bible study class is framing all these realizations:

"I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task given to me by the Lord Jesus, the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace." (Acts 20:24)

I was trying to explain all the "stuff" that was swirling at a break-neck pace around in my head to my pastor after church, but it all seemed so wordless, so I quoted this verse to him to punctuate my emotions. With a twinkle in his eye, he said, "Isn't that Paul?" (Of course he knew it was.)

My time is precious, but at the same time, worthless or sadly finite or fruitless if not directed toward God's kingdom. Every soul matters. God desires to say of each of us, "That one's mine." And with His power, I can shine a light on the love in my heart that testifies to His grace, so others might accept the Truth. I can change the world.

So can you.

Copyright 2008 Just Enough Grace Publications

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