TAKING AND MAKING TIME FOR GOD
By: Greg Hinnant
From a tract published by: Evangelical Tract Distributors, P.O. Box 146, Edmonton,
AB,Canada T5J 2G9 – www.evangelicaltract.com
“So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts
unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12
Time is a very precious and perishable commodity. With mercy toward none and impatience toward all, it steadily slips away, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Even while we take the time to consider this subject, our lives, like a mist, are gradually vanishing from the earthly scene. “…for what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” James 4:14
The psalmist had this truth in mind when he prayed, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12. To “number our days” is to highly value and wisely use the time God has allotted us.
If we want our lives to count for God, we must get to know Him. “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.” John 17:3. To know God, we must seek Him. “Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near.” Isaiah 55:6. To seek Him, we must spend time with Him. “And He ordained twelve, that they should be with Him…” (Mark 3:14, 13-15, 19b; cf. Exodus 24:12-13, 18). And to spend time with God, we must take time from other interests – and now. Life is extremely short. There is simply no time to waste.
In ‘The Root of the Righteous’, A. W. Tozer writes:
“Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress. Why, after years of Christian profession, do so many persons find themselves no farther along than when they first believed?”
He concludes that the most probable cause of this “retarded spiritual progress” is “failure to give time to the cultivation of the knowledge of God.” Then he adds:
“Progress in the Christian life is exactly equal to the growing knowledge we gain of the Triune God in personal experience. And such experience requires a whole life devoted to it and plenty of time spent in the holy task of cultivating God. God can be known satisfactorily only as we devote time to Him… We may as well accept it: there is no short cut to sanctity… A thousand distractions would woo us away from thoughts of God, but if we are wise we will sternly put them from us and make room for the King and take time to entertain Him. Some things may be neglected with but little loss to the spiritual life, but to neglect communion with God is to hurt ourselves where we cannot afford it.”
In this “instant age” we tend to look for shorter, easier ways of doing everything. But there is no way to obtain instant spiritual reality. Christian maturity is available only on a “pay as you go” basis; if we don’t pay the price we don’t go on to know God. We cannot press buttons and have God suddenly created in us a wonderful, well-rounded knowledge of Himself.
Abraham could not. It took him many years of seeking, trusting, waiting, and obeying to fully know the God who called him. And so it was with Joseph, Moses and David. Even Jesus did not mature in a moment. Over a period of thirty years, He spent many long hours in private communion with His Heavenly Father. Then He went forth to minister, “full of grace and truth.” John 1:14. The Heavenly Father is looking for disciples who are as their Lord, who love Him enough to spend time with Him.
Are we being honest with God about how we use our time? In ‘Workman of God’, Oswald Chambers writes:
Peter said to Ananias, ‘Thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.’ Acts 5:4. Christian worker, how much time are you giving to prayer, to reading your Bible? ‘Oh, I am giving all the time I can.’ Be careful that you are not lying to the Holy Ghost. Pentecostal lying begins in this way, dragging down the intense holiness of God which keeps a man right with God in every detail of his life. Let us examine ourselves the next time we say, ‘ I have no time,’ or, ‘I give all the time I can to the study of God’s Word, I give all the time I can to praying.’ God grant we may be put on the alert on these lines that we may not be found lying to the Holy Ghost. May these words come with warning and with scrutiny and bring our souls face to face with God.”
Let us consider some simple human facts common to us all. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 1:18. Truly, “there is… a time to every purpose under the Heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1. We take time to eat, sleep and work. We take time for education, entertainment, recreation, and relaxation. We take time to visit with family and friends. We take time to examine, buy and sell the material goods we need to live in this world. We take time for births, deaths and marriages. We take time for special events and national and religious holidays. We take time for church and social activities. But amid all this careful allocation of time, where does God come in? Where is our time for Him? “Come unto Me…” Matthew 11:28-30. How unreasonable it is to take time for everything but God and yet expect to know Him so closely that we possess the faith of Abraham, the wisdom of Joseph, the devotion of David, the insight of Daniel and the love of Paul? God must wonder about us!
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (II Corinthians 6:2; cf. Romans 13:11-14). If we are ever going to spend time with God, now is the time to do so. If we are ever going to master the Bible, now is the time to do so. If we are ever going to “Pray without ceasing”, I Thessalonians 5:17, now is the time to do so. If we are ever going to become “approved unto God”, II Timothy 2:15 and “disciples indeed”, John 8:31, now is the time to give ourselves “wholly” to the process of becoming “Till I come… give thyself wholly…” I Timothy 4:13-15. Spiritual procrastination – putting off God’s plans while we pursue our plans – is a great enemy. It hinders our spiritual growth so effectively that the Devil doesn’t even have to oppose us! He rests while we self-destruct by wasting our precious time.
Some believers have plenty of free time, but refuse to take any of it for God. Their spare time is zealously committed to good things, the good things that are ever the enemy of the best. Worldly busywork usurps spiritual activity. Temporal things crowd out eternal interests. Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word,” Luke 10:39, but these distracted saints, as Martha, hustle about encumbering themselves with activities, activities and more activities from dawn to dusk. They have forgotten the exhortation of II Timothy 2:4, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”
Other saints have very little extra time. The demands of job, family and church consume almost all of their waking moments. Yet, strangely, some of these hear and answer the call to seek the Lord. How do they do it? Where do they find the time to abide with Jesus in the “secret place”? They don’t; they make it. Because they take Matthew 6:33 seriously and literally – “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness…” – they prayerfully re-arrange their daily schedules to make time for Him.
Jesus taught that the man who makes good use of what he has will be given more. “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance…,” Matthew 25:29, 14-30. And the man who does not use what he has will lose it. “…but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” (Matthew 25:29; cf. Luke 19:24-26).
Apply this to our use of time, we discover a miraculous law of God: God gives time to the man who uses his time for Him. If we use our free time for fellowship with the Lord, He will work providentially in our circumstances to give us more free time… time that we may then use to seek Him further. ”…and he shall have abundance…” When He sees us taking or making time to spend with Him in His Word and prayer, He is so pleased that He moves to create new openings in our schedules. Why? Because He can trust us to use that time to “apply our hearts unto wisdom.” Psalm 90:12. But He does not do so for the man who consistently misuses his extra time. Rather, he finds “even that which he hath” is eventually “taken away.”
Are we willing to take, or if need be, make time to seek the Lord? It will mean re-arranging, re-scheduling and re-ordering our days and nights. Our lifestyle will be turned upside-down. New, spiritual priorities will have to be established. As knowing God becomes our new chief interest, many formerly important interests will be permanently relegated to second place. Beloved, we have made God wait too long. Now other things – “all these things… the Gentiles seek,” Matthew 6:32 – must wait.
If you have free time for God, take it. If you don’t make it. And now! Only then can you “follow after” to fully know your Lord and fulfil your spiritual destiny. “That I may know Him… I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:10-12.