When looking to the week to come, do you grab your calendar and prioritize the events of the week, filling in the spaces with extra housework or errands? Or do you prepare for scheduling in prayer, asking God to shape your time in the way He desires it to be spent? When your plans are interrupted, do you rush through the interruption completely frustrated? Or do you search for ways to see how God is shaping and teaching through that interruption? We may respond differently to our plans and our days in different circumstances, but the way we view our time can often reflect who we think our time belongs to.
It's important to remember when we are planning our days, that time is not ours. God has numbered our days (Psalm 139:16), and every second He has us on this earth is another purposefully gifted second He has given us to work unto His glory and honor and praise. Each day we wake up and have breath in our lungs is an intentional act of God to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
Often, when days feel full, the sentiment is shared, "there's just not enough time!" But God gives us all the time we need to accomplish what He has asked of us. When we claim that there isn't enough time, we imply that God should have given us more than He already has. The Bible says that God gives us everything we need for this life (2 Peter 1:3), and that includes time!
Our understanding of time can stem from the way we view our lives as a whole. When we come to know Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we give our lives to His sovereign and perfect rule. Galatians 2:20 says, "I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (ESV). We no longer live for ourselves but for the glory of God. We no longer live for our plans but for His. As we preach the gospel to ourselves again and again, we are reminded of this truth. Christ died to give us life–a life to be used, day in and day out, to return glory back to Him. Our plans, our calendars, and our time should reflect God and not ourselves.
As we understand that we are living on borrowed time, practically speaking, how should we go through our days? We can't just skip our appointments or ignore our work schedules. We can't stop caring for our homes and families by neglecting errands and making no time for chores. We are called to be diligent and make the best use of our time because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16). One way the Bible helps us to reframe our understanding of time is simply to say, "If the Lord wills." James 4:13-15 says:
Come now, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit'– yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, 'If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.'
When I first started dating my husband, I remember him frequently using this phrase. We would have dinner with a couple, and as we walked to our car he would say, "Lord willing, we will see you next Sunday!" In fact, as we approached our wedding day, he would talk about marriage, children, and future plans all prefaced with, "If the Lord wills." I heard this so recurrently from him that it entered into my own vocabulary. As simple as it sounds, it changed my perspective on how I speak about my days. Saying that things will only come to be if the Lord wills them served as a subtle reminder that His will is the highest pursuit of our time.
When we talk about future events, we must remember that although we make plans, the Lord establishes them (Proverbs 16:9). A simple reminder that these events will only happen if the Lord wills for them sets a proper expectation and reorients our hearts toward Him.
Another way we see Scripture guiding us in how to view and use our time is prayerfully. Countless prayers in the Psalms reflect a heart that truly desires to spend time and make plans in the way that God desires. Several of these verses read:
But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!Psalm 31:14-15
O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am! Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah.Psalm 39:4-5
Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. You return man to dust and say, 'Return, O children of man!' For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.Psalm 90:1-4
Consider ways to preface your planning and scheduling with prayers like the ones we see in the Psalms. Pray continually against a selfish outlook on your time. Ask God to shape your desires to His–to help you to be expectant of how He will use your days for His purposes. Ask Him to create space for His divine interruptions. Invite others into those prayers, asking them for prayerful petitions to God to help you safeguard against an idolatrous use of your time.
As we live our days on this earth, let us be thoughtful of how we use the time God has given to us. May we consider who we can invite into our schedules that we previously thought we could not make time for. May we consider how to lay down our own schedules and step into the life of someone in need. May we welcome ministry opportunities that we didn't anticipate. May we take a moment to pray when the day is quickly passing us by, our schedules seemingly taking over. Let's encourage one another in our use of time, being diligent in the work God has called us to for our days. Let us speak of our schedules with a constant reference to what the Lord wills, and let us plan our futures loosely with a complete hope in God's plans. Let us live wholeheartedly unto the Lord, making the most of His time.