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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Redeeming the Time

Howdy folks! It is good to be back in the gentle green of Washington State.

In a life that has grown increasingly busy, and noisy, running is one of the times that I can find some solitude to listen and think. I'm more and more in the habit of listening to messages on podcast while I run, rather than any genre of music. I find this ironic when I run past people who are blaring their ipod so loudly I can make out AC/DC from blocks away.

Anyway, yesterday on my run I was listening to a message by Andy Stanley, who leads a large church in the Atlanta area. He has a fresh, innovative way of thinking and if you've never heard of him, go find his stuff on itunes. He's worth the time. The message I listened to was all about time. I'll summarize here what he said (or more accurately, what I got out of it!)

The question we ask all the time is, "what time is it?" while the question we should be asking is, "what am I doing with the time?" The way we spend our time is crucial, and here's why. When it comes to the things that matter most in life(exercise, relationships, spiritual matters), doing them in small segments of time over months and years has a cumulative effect on our lives. So, when we eat smart and exercise over several months, we'll notice it down the road. The urgent things in life, while not as important, tend NOT to have a cumulative affect. Meaning, when we look back a year from now at how we spent time, we often can't remember the urgent things that took so much time.

The danger in all of this is that missing any one occurrence of the most important things (such a workout, a dinner with our spouse, or a time of reading the Bible) seems insignificant, and so we often push it aside for things that seem more urgent in that moment. The long range effect is that we continually put off what is most important in order to do what seems more urgent, even when we acknowledge that the urgent is less important.

In Ephesians 5, Paul writes, "Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

This "making the most of every opportunity" literally read, "redeeming the time". In other words, get the highest possible value out of the time you have been given. This is wise living.

How do we do this? By continually prioritizing the most important things in life- relationships, our health, our walk with Christ- even though each single act may not seem that significant alone. These small but regular investments of time will have a cumulative effect in our lives. This has been so important for me to remember as I return from a long trip. The "urgent" is all around me, screaming at me to ignore what matters more. And so, I'm trying to be smart enough to balance the "right now" with that which is simply "right."

How about you? What things that are most important to you do you tend to put off over and over? What secrets have you learned to stay focused on the important things?

May you journey in joy today,

Nick

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