“Look carefully how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
making the best use of time, because the days are evil.“
(Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)
“If you have never missed a plane, you are spending way too much of your life in airports.”
That’s my friend Catherine’s counsel and, as someone who knows what it’s like to show up after the jetway door has been sealed, I appreciate her perspective. Time is a limited resource; why would anyone want to waste extra minutes waiting to board?
As a young mom, I tried to teach my children to hurry. We’d play “Beat the Buzzer” to get the kitchen clean or when the bedrooms needed a ten-minute “cabin check.” I thought I was being such a fun mom by turning the housework into a race, but since we rarely finished the job (at least not to my satisfaction), I can’t help but think my strategy backfired. Instead of helping my kids manage time, I simply reinforced the idea that doing so was impossible.
And maybe that’s true. Maybe there isn’t enough time for the housework, the homework, or whatever is on your to-do list. But according to Elisabeth Elliot, there is always time to do what God wants you to do.
“If we really have too much to do,” she wrote, “there are some items on the agenda that God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”
The answer to an overwhelmed life
The Bible supports this idea. “God is able,” Scripture says, “to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)
Can we really count on God to give us all that we need to do “every” good work? Even if our need is for time?
Yes—and we can ask the Holy Spirit to help. We can pray the same prayer that Moses did: “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 ESV) And while we can’t “grow” our time the way we might grow our money, we can turn to Scripture to discover how best to invest it.
For instance, Philippians 2:3 (NIV) tells us to value others above ourselves. This may mean playing on the floor with our toddlers, or lingering over coffee with a friend, instead of letting our days be dictated by our agenda.
Philippians 4:8 (NIV) says we should think about things that are excellent or praiseworthy. This may mean we stop squandering thoughts on worry and fear and start devoting those moments to thanking God for his provision.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) tells us to throw off everything that hinders. This may mean deleting good things from our schedule so we can pay attention to the better things God is doing.
We may think the answer to an overwhelmed life is a change in our circumstances, but it’s not. The answer is to invite God into the mix, allowing His Word to shape our priorities and our to-do list. As Martin Luther famously put it, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.”
(Put another way, get to your gate early. You can use those extra minutes to pray.)
In His Word
“Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)
In Your Life
How do you define success when it comes to using time? Do you take on too much? Or do you hang back, worried you won’t have enough minutes in the day? Try this. Start the next 30 days with the Lord. Submit your agenda to Him—pray through each calendar item—and ask Him to help you see His hand in the interruptions or unexpected detours you face.
Read more about making the best use of time in Praying the Scriptures for Your Life: 31 Days of Abiding in the Presence, Provision, and Power of God. You’ll learn to pray effectively about everything from your relationships, to hearing God’s voice, to overcoming worry and fear.
Connect with Jodie on Instagram and via her email newsletter, and please visit jodieberndt.com to access free resources like printable prayer calendars, encouraging videos, and study guides for group or individual use.