Anytime I think about how to make the most of my time, I am reminded of an episode of the popular television show The Simpsons. In the episode one of the main characters, Homer, has a near-death experience. He is told that he has been poisoned and has just 24 hours to live, and so he makes a list of the things he wants to do before he dies. Unfortunately, Homer starts his day by oversleeping his alarm by 5 ½ hours, and after numerous distractions can only complete the most important tasks on his list. After waking the next morning surprised to be alive, he exclaims, ‘From this day forward, I vow to live life to its fullest!’ But as the closing credits roll, he is shown planted on the couch eating pork rinds and watching pro bowling. This humorous look at Homer’s attempt to spend his last hours in a meaningful fashion also highlight one of the greatest struggles for any seminary student: time management.
Every day we are faced with tough choices on how to manage our time in a way that is prosperous and glorifying to God. Although we may be tempted to think of this as a new struggle in our technology-saturated age, time management has been around since the very foundation of the Church. Paul exhorted the believers at Ephesus to ‘Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time’ (Ephesians 5:15-16a, ESV). Appropriate time management is not only wise, but it is also a Christian mandate. It is also an incredibly challenging discipline. Oftentimes as seminary students we are faced with a choice between good, better, and best. Do we start doing research for that paper that’s due in three weeks or do we spend a night growing closer to our family? Should I go to that baseball game with my friends, or should I mow the lawn? Rarely do we have an easy choice to make when it concerns how we allot our time. On top of all that, we have time that we intend to use for good, and end up wasting. We know we should be studying, but we find ourselves on Facebook yet again. But in order to use our time wisely, we have to gain a biblical perspective.
Psalm 90 is all about the brevity of life. Moses compares the years of man to grass that sprouts up in the morning and has withered by nightfall. The climax of this discourse on the temporal nature of man is verse 12, where Moses prays, ‘So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.’ We’re accustomed to counting our days forward, celebrating birthdays each year, but Moses cautions us that when we look at our life, it should be a countdown. After all, as James says, we are not guaranteed tomorrow. Time management begins when we look at life from God’s (and Kansas’) perspective: as dust in the wind. When I started realizing how short my life is, I started thinking twice about hitting the snooze button. I lamented the time I wasted playing videogames and wasting my time on a thousand different meaningless pursuits. Richard Baxter gave a wise reminder concerning the redemption of time: ‘Do not let worthless recreations, idle talk, unprofitable company, or sleep rob you of your precious time. Be more careful to escape that person, action, or course of life that would rob you of your time than you would be to escape thieves and robbers.’
When we’re faced with the tough decisions where both options look equally enticing and equally beneficial, we mustn’t forget that time is one of the greatest resources God has given us. It can be our greatest enemy or our greatest ally. If we don’t take inventory of how we use our time, we can let it slip away. We can procrastinate and race the clock to turn in assignments, or we can redeem the time and let not a single moment pass by. At the end of my life (and my studies), I want to be able to say that I numbered my days with wisdom and that I used the time in such a way that Christ was glorified and made known among the peoples. And that will be time well spent.
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