Both Ephesians 5:15-16 and Colossians 4:5 mention the phrase “redeeming the time.” It’s a concept that deals with how we spend our time on earth and how we should always live with eternity in mind. Recently, I was inspired to try my hand at a charcuterie board-style fruit platter for a ladies’ meeting at church. I started with a baking sheet so the fruit juices wouldn’t drip, and it occurred to me that a cookie pan was just the analogy for the kind of Christian life we should all seek to lead to redeem the time.
A Divided Life
When you think about your time, do you have categories? Maybe something like “This is work time, this is family/spouse time, this is time for God, this is time for me”? Now think about that kind of life as a tray with all the different sections.
What happens when you have to work a little longer than you thought? Or a friend or family member needs more attention than usual because of a crisis? Does that time spill over into another category? Does it take away from time you would have spent with God, or you could have rested? Now let’s go one step further. What happens when the Holy Spirit leads you to pray longer, engage in a new ministry, or be His hands and feet in a situation you never expected? When the section appointed for God suddenly gets larger, how does it feel to lose time in other areas?
Recently I realized that in my mind, time was sectioned just like a divided tray. But as an introvert empty nester who has always been very driven, I only had two categories: work and rest. My responsibilities (everything I had to do) went on one side. When those things were done, I could rest (and do what I wanted to do) on the other. But here’s the problem. Which side do you think the things of God (like church, Bible study/prayer, ministry) went on? I will give you a hint. The only thing on the “rest” side was me.
A Cookie Pan Life – A Life Wholly Given to God
Now imagine that all the sections of your life-tray are erased. Your time is now one, big empty cookie pan wholly given to God.
That means that you have no preconceived ideas about which time is set aside for work, family, ministry, or self. You just set your mind to tune into the Holy Spirit for His direction. It’s kind of scary at first, right? What if God decides to work you to the bone and never gives you another second to rest in your entire life? You’re probably either laughing or horrified, but if we’re honest, I think it’s a legitimate fear when going into this. We are afraid that if we give ourselves – really give ourselves – to God, we won’t get our own needs met in the here and now.
But the Bible says God knows we have needs (Matthew 6:32). In fact, he knows our needs before we do (Matthew 6:8) and will provide for them (Philippians 4:19). He is also sensitive to our wants even more so than the very best parent and gives good gifts (Matthew 7:11). Even living outside of time Himself, God totally gets that time is naturally sectioned (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). And when it comes to the frailty of His people, He totally gets us too (Psalm 103:14). When we seek God’s kingdom first, we can be assured that everything we need and even a lot of the things we want will be added (Matthew 6:33).
God is Creative and Wise
Plus, we must never forget what an amazing artist God really is. He knows the components of our lives, and He can arrange them in ways that we would never think of on our own. He can take a blank, empty life with God in the center of it and make it into a masterpiece.
Not only that, but both of the verses that mention redeeming the time exhort us to walk in wisdom. Who is wiser than God? With so many modern distractions vying for time and so very little of it to go around, what better way to portion time than to allow God to do it for us? He can keep us in balance when we set our minds to doing things His way. Plus, when we give God the freedom to choose, that takes away every single stress that revolves around time — or time spilling. It’s all His time, and we trust Him to make the most of it.
One Pan, One Yoke
One last issue that ties into this topic involves a verse that has come to my mind again and again lately. In Matthew 11:30, Jesus tells people to come to Him for rest. He says, “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Think about it. How many things in our lives seem to control us (when it comes to time)? How much pressure are we under to get everything done, to make everyone happy, and to fulfill all our obligations? We can even start to feel guilty when we try to squeeze in a little rest for our bodies and minds.
But what if we removed all those mental yokes that have a hold on us except for one? The Lord Jesus Christ. What if we decided that we would be concerned about one thing alone: pleasing God? That’s it. Everything else, we give to God (1 Peter 5:7). How much more peace we would have with just one concern for our whole life? How much lighter our loads?
Pray for a Cookie Pan Life
I don’t know about you, but my tray has been sectioned for so long, a blank sheet will take some getting used to. But God is merciful and gracious. He can change our will to match His own and help us in ways we never imagined. With His grace, we can live a cookie pan life, wholly pleasing to Him. With His guidance, we can truly redeem the time.
Speaking of Matthew 11:30, check out my new favorite song by Jack Cassidy: Let Go, Let God.
Do you like analogies? Try reading It’s Not the Machine That Makes Us Clean. It’s an article that compares a dishwasher to aspects of the Christian life. Or, try Born Again: All About That Butterfly Life. An article about being born again uses the analogy of the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to a butterfly. Or, Check out my YouTube Channel where I will read all my posts to you while you do something else.