"Don’t stop meeting together, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing.
Instead, encourage each other.”
Some days the to-do list is so long I can barely keep track of all that I need to accomplish, both at work and at home. On the flip side, there are evenings and weekend days where it seems I have nothing BUT time. Either way, I seem to lose myself in the tasks of doing, and in the profound loneliness I feel when I am alone.
Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, addresses the way we, as individuals, feel love from others. I have come to realize the love languages of quality time and words of affirmation allow me to feel the most loved. These are the two love languages that speak directly to my heart. I enjoy time with others because I am a social person. When I have too much time by myself, I begin to feel untethered and anxious.
Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty to do to keep me busy. It’s just that I don’t want to spend all of my non-work time cleaning or crafting; reading and doing things by myself. I long for time with others while doing the things I enjoy.
Since I became single six years ago, I have had way too much time by myself. To remedy that, I have sought out ways to connect with others. I have attended worship; I sing in a praise band and choir periodically; I enjoy evenings out with friends; I have been in a couple of community theater productions; I volunteer with a few non-profit organizations. And, I’m still lonely.
What I lack is quality time with someone special. Someone who has made me a priority in their life. I long for the gift of time with another person. I’m not good at being single, and I won’t settle for a person who is not right for me, just to be with someone. Until the right person comes along, (and I am certain they will) I will seek out others for whom to give the gift of time.
The author of the Book of Hebrews knows the importance of making time for others: “Therefore, let’s draw near with a genuine heart with the certainty that our faith gives us… And let us consider each other carefully for the purpose of sparking love and good deeds. Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other.” (Hebrews 10: 22-25 CEB, selected)
Instead of wallowing in my loneliness, I will find ways to serve and share God’s love. My family and friends will continue to be a priority, as will my personal health. That’s what the Creator asks of me. Time is a gift meant to be shared with others for the purpose of building them up.
Time is also a gift meant to be shared with God. That’s why I try to start each day without the TV on; without checking texts or email. I call it my Quiet Time. It’s just God and me, and it’s quiet so I can hear God speak to my heart. Without this time to center my mind and heart, I lack the focus and direction that leads me toward those people and activities that are truly meaningful.
It’s all too easy to wake up in the morning and hit the road running. It’s comfortable to laze about on a Sunday morning and not go to worship. It’s habit-forming to just walk by someone who is struggling. To do that is to view the gift of time as our own to do with what we wish. In reality, all time is gifted to us from God, and it is meant to be cherished.
FOR FURTHER THOUGHT
In the movie, CASTAWAY starring Tom Hanks, he has nothing but time. Lots of time. Prior to being stranded on an island after a plane crash, he spent all of his time working. By doing so, he pushed aside those people in his life that were important to him. In his solitary time on the island, he realized he was doing life all wrong, and he lost the love of his life because of it.
How do you spend your time? What activities and interactions do you prioritize? Our lives are run by the clock: It is time to run kids to their activities; it is time to go to work; it is time to buy groceries, it’s time for an appointment. We have electronic calendars on our phones and computers that signal when it is time for the next thing.
Among all the time commitments, we tend to lose sight of what is really important: time with those we love, including God. We don’t have to be stranded on an island to be drawn away from Christian fellowship and time with God. Day to day life does that all on its own.
To fall away from God is to break off from all that is good in life. Instead of turning away, scripture says we must “encourage one another daily.” When we spend the gift of time with each other, we can help one another keep God as a priority.
God will provide opportunities to offer time to others, and it will make all the difference for us and for others. Our role is to be open to God’s leading, and to act when we have the chance to do so.
How many times have you said, “Yes, but not today? I will do it tomorrow.” How many missed opportunities have you had in your life because you didn’t seek out the gift of time for TODAY? Sadly we are not able to go back in time because TODAY is where we live.
Do not wait for another day to use your time well. Do it every day: with the ones you love and with God. Take the time to listen and share. It doesn’t have to be a major activity, just stop, turn off the TV or the podcasts; put the phone away, and spend some time with God and with those you love.
If you have children that take up a lot of time, hire a sitter and go to a coffee shop and share time with your spouse or a friend. If your job is demanding, carve out some time when the cell phone gets turned off; schedule it in your calendar if you have to.
We can’t go back in time. We have only TODAY. What will you do TODAY?
Creator God, You seek to draw near to us and spend quality time with us every day. Help me to not push You away, but to instead invite You in. Show me those whom I should invest in with my time and love in order to encourage and build them up. I want to live my best life, and I know that with You at the center…. with You getting my first time each day…. I can do just that. I love You, Lord. Amen.
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