The world is a very confusing place right now. Values accepted by Christians and non-Christians alike for as long as there have been human beings now seem to be set on their heads. Up is down. Right is left. Black is white.
The Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage is especially troubling, because we have already seen at the state level what the new definition does to confessing Christians who refuse to participate in sinful behavior. It makes everyone ask, what do I do?
The answer is to follow a practice that has proved itself over generations of Christians. In times like these, we need nourishment for our faith and strength to hope that God is still in charge. The best way to get the nourishment we need is to follow a daily practice of prayer and Bible study.
When we tell people that an important fact about marriage is that the union of one man and one woman is a model for God’s relationship with his church, many scoff. In these times, we who love the Lord need to remember that the relationship of marriage is, indeed, a place to learn about the relationship each of us has with the Lord. Now is a good time to discover a universal truth about marriage that is equally applicable to your relationship with God: a relationship thrives on time spent together, time when each partner focuses on the other. Daily prayer and Bible reading is one way to spend time with God that will nourish your relationship with him while it builds your faith and strengthens your hope.
I have never met a Christian who did not think that this practice was a good idea, but I have met many Christians who don’t follow it. A few complain that they don’t know how, but the almost universal complaint is lack of time. It isn’t a complaint isolated to faith practices; they complain equally of no time to read to children, no time for exercise, no time to attend worship, and so forth. When did time itself become a tyrant that enslaves humanity? Is time for us, or are we for time?
The fact is that, like any scarce resource, our time is allocated according to the importance of the way we use it. Sleep is very important, and for many people, even the notion of 8 hours of sleep is unthinkable due to other demands on their time. Some will say that there are so many demands on their time already that to make time for prayer and Bible study would further reduce their time for healthful sleep. God’s gift of time is seen as a resource that is used as dictated by other people, not by each individual for himself. There is no time for the Lord simply because he does not punish anyone for failure to give him some of it.
Nobody exactly says this, but it is implied by the fact that they all explain the price of failing to meet other people’s expectations for their use of time. “My kid will be devastated if he has to miss a game.” In other words, the child will dish out the punishment for parental failure to attend a game. Heaven forbid the parent should choose to make a child miss a game. “My boss says that people who go home every day at 5PM have no passion for their work, and he remembers that in each employee’s annual review.” The boss dishes out the punishment for failure to use time according to his values. “My husband is in sales, so we must appear at a lot of social functions. His success depends on it.” The husband, or the husband’s boss, will punish failure to use time as expected. And so forth. There seems to be a price to pay for disappointing people, while God apparently sits silent when he is ignored.
There is a different way to see time. Time is God’s gift to each person in this world, and each person owes God faithful stewardship of time. Time is a gift, and it is yours until you give it away. You have all the control, unless you cede it to others. A prisoner serving a life sentence for murder has the same gift of time as the CEO of Apple, and the same rights and responsibilities before God with regard to his use of time.
What is a Christian to do if his or her gift of time has been snatched away by other people?
That is the real problem for most Christians. It explains a lack of time for prayer and Bible study, and it explains a lack of time for worship, fellowship with Christians, and even the lack of time for personal rest.
Try this idea: Think of the 24 hours starting right this minute as God’s unique gift to you. If you use this time as God’s steward, in the expectation that 24 hours from now God will ask you what you did with them, how will that change the way you use them? Is there any chance that in the next 24 hours you can choose to give five minutes to God in prayer and Bible study? Does God deserve that much of your time?
These are troubled times. Christians are wringing their hands, crying aloud on Facebook, and tweeting plaintively across cyberspace. What is a Christian to do? The first thing, the best thing, the most useful thing a Christian can do is to accept stewardship of each day’s time and make time for daily prayer and Bible study.
That is what a Christian must do.
By Katherine Harms, author of Oceans of Love available for Kindle at Amazon.com.
Image by Curioso
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