I recently began leading a Bible Study by Lisa Jo Baker, entitled “We Saved You a Seat.” This study is taking a closer look at Biblical friendships using Jesus’ life and ministry as the ultimate example we are to follow. Last week in our study time together, we discussed the idea that “giving people our time is an act of radical generosity.” I have to admit that I’ve never quite thought of “giving my time” as a gift, much less a radical one. But this study and our conversation last night have got me thinking a little more along those lines. Especially when I realize that my time is not really mine at all. What if the time we’re given each day...the seconds, minutes, and hours that we plan and schedule and fill to the brim do not actually even belong to me? What if instead they are on loan to us from our Heavenly Father? What if they are gifted to us with the expectation that we use them not for our own self-fulfillment but to do the Lord’s work? What a perspective shift!
I don’t know about you but that recognition compels me to reexamine how I spend my time. I’ve heard it said numerous times that you can tell a person’s priorities by looking at their calendar and at their checkbook. Essentially, how someone spends their time and their money indicates what they deem most important. I wonder how many of our calendars would testify to the fact that the Lord’s work - His people and sharing His gospel - are our utmost priority? I’m sad to say that I’m sure mine wouldn’t speak to that as clearly as I’d like. A large portion of my time is spent doing the “have-tos” of life...and as ashamed as I am to admit it, it’s also spent getting frustrated when those “have-tos” get interrupted or rescheduled. But one thing the Lord is reminding me through this study is that Jesus is to be my example of how I should spend my time. During His ministry, Jesus was constantly being interrupted. And yet, He stopped each and every time:
for the Centurion’s servant (Luke 7:1-10),
for Peter’s Mother-in-Law (Luke 4:38-39),
for the paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-26),
for Jairus’ daughter (Luke 8:40-56),
for the blind man (John 9:1-12),
for the children (Mark 10:13-16).
Because what Jesus knew and what I’m learning is that what may initially seem like interruptions aren’t really interruptions at all - they’re only appointments, divine appointments. These appointments, gifted to us by our Father, are opportunities for His work to be done. For His name to be made known. For His Word to be spoken and shared and poured out to His people all for His glory.
It is my prayer that the Lord would loosen my grip on the time that I’ve selfishly stamped as “mine” and shift my perspective to see time His way - as an opportunity to connect and to invest in His people. May I never again become frustrated with interruptions but instead see them as divine appointments. May I always feel a check in my spirit when I’m tempted to breeze past a person, conversation, or situation that desperately needs me to stop and invest. May I be like more like Jesus in my willingness to be interrupted if it means that people will receive from Him the healing they so desperately need.
Time is indeed a gift. One the Lord has given us and one that we can give others. It won’t always be easy or neat and tidy. It will often be inconvenient and messy. But if we’re willing to be interrupted we just might be trading the “have-tos” for the “get-tos”, and we might just get to be a part of the Lord’s work - something much bigger than ourselves and much more important than our to-do list.
The Lord has given us time - let’s not waste it.
Baker, Lisa Jo, We Saved You a Seat: Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships. Nashville, Tennessee: LifeWay Press, (2017).