How to Redeem Your Time by Dale McCamish
Well, I am in quarantine until I get my test results back. Last time we had a state-wide lockdown I don’t think I used my time as wisely as I could have. I stayed busy; I had to learn how to do online church, and learn how to read off a teleprompter, and find out what “encoding a worship service” is (actually someone else figured that out and I just listened to their explanation, nodding my head like I understood), but I was so busy trying to learn how to do church online I forgot that I am supposed to BE the church both in-person and online. Last time I was stuck at home, I also stayed entertained; I had the opportunity to catch up on some Netflix that I had been wanting to watch. But being busy and entertained are not the same thing as “making the most of every opportunity.”
Paul reminds the Christians at Ephesus, “make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” The King Jimmy version says, “redeem” the time. Both translations are emphasizing that our time is valuable and precious because we only have it in a limited amount. And that we should “buy it back” with careful, diligent use. So, I want to give you some of my plans for quarantine in case you get quarantined, too (or we go to “shutdown” again soon).
First, make sure you are using your time to grow in holiness. Paul tells Timothy in the second letter that God’s use for us is directly tied to our holiness (2 Timothy 2:20-26). When we practice living up to the holiness that has been done within us and declared over us we will be ready to be used by God for the works He has planned for us to do. Practice holiness by avoiding “foolish and ignorant controversies” (I’m talking to you Twitter and Facebook and Thanksgiving dinner family members) and pursuing right actions toward others, faith, love, and peace. Try starting your day seeking to access the power of Christ made available to you in reading the Psalms and Proverbs of the day and praying for God to be your ever present help.
I love the story of Frank Laubach, missionary to the Philippines in the early 1900’s, he decided that he would make sure he thought of God and practiced being in the presence of God for one minutes out of every hour he was awake. Then after some time, experiencing the presence of God like never before, he decided to take at least one second out of every minute to think about God. God ended up using him to train tens of thousands of people how to read and lead thousands to Christ. He would write in some of his journals, “I want to learn how to live so that to see someone is to pray for them.” There’s a man who learned how to redeem his time.
Another story, along a similar use of time involves one of our church families. One family in our church, the husband and wife, get up every day and pray the Lord’s Prayer together before they start their day–and they’re not even quarantined! And they told me that prayer time together has changed their marriage, their life, and has even started to affect the lives of their children. Bible and reading and prayer time don’t have to start while you’re under quarantine, but being stuck at home is a perfect time to develop some good habits that will serve you for a lifetime.
Second, use your time to check on family members and friends. Make it one of your goals to “think of someone and pray for them,” just like Laubach. Drop an individual text (don’t do a group text or group message), or make individual phone calls to some people who you think could use an “interactive” pick-me-up. Isolation can do weird things to people. Checking in on someone will do wonders for your soul and theirs, too. Just letting someone know you care will go a long way in obeying the Scripture that says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2.
I have a suggestion for you phone call or text, though: Fight the temptation to make it about you. Make it a point not to mention anything that ails you or that you’re quarantined. Just call and let that person know you were thinking about them and wanted to see how they are doing. Ask them questions. Find out what they have been doing. Find out how you can help them, spend more time listening than talking, and ask them how you can pray for them. And this will feel weird at first, but pray for them, right then and there on the phone. You can make the most of your time and buy it back by caring for someone else that needs the love of Christ that only you can give them. When we make helping someone else one of our priorities to honor Christ, then we also help take care of some of the “stuck at home” blues we might start feeling after two or three days of quarantine (or in my case 2 or 3 hours….).
And finally, use your time to better yourself. Take an online course, go watch all the Bible Project videos, or memorize the Sermon on the Mount. If you go to www.thewaykarate.org you can learn how to take Karate where the instructors teach Christian leadership using martial arts (shameless plug, but on thewaykarate’s Youtube page there are some karate classes you can watch for free taught by me and my best friend). You can get some online Bible certifications, learn how to counsel others, or just learn from some of the greatest teachers Christianity has to offer.
And the great thing is, a lot of these learning opportunities are free online. And your options increase if you decide you want to pay for a couple of online courses. Peter says “make every effort to add to your faith goodness; adn to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Peter 1:5-8. And I agree with him, start planning your next quarantine or “shutdown” now and when it happens, you too, will be able to redeem your time.
Those are some of my suggestions, but I would love to hear what some of your suggestions are. Please comment in the section below. Please give me a list of things to do to show people love when you’re quarantined, or the latest online learning experience you have used, or ways you have bought back your time to focus on Jesus Christ. Somebody you know (me) might need more ways to buy back their time, read one of your suggestions, and then put it into good use.