Over the past year, the church that I have the honor of pastoring has lost from our family a number of incredible and young people to various diseases. Death is obviously no respecter of persons. Let me just say: you don’t stand by the beds of dying men and watch their families say goodbye without being shaken down to your core. This shaking, by the way, is not a bad thing. In fact, I think it is a good thing to be reminded of the brevity of my life.
The Bible teaches us in many places of the aforementioned brevity. The book of James tells us “life is but a vapor”. Well, if you’ve ever sprayed a can of hairspray or watched the fog lift off of a creek in the morning, you know how fast a vapor disappears. King David, in the Psalms, prays to God asking to be taught to “number his days”. This is important because it is an admission that making our brief lives count isn’t really in the natural wheelhouse of humans. We live often as if we are going to live this life forever. We waste tons of time online or watching TV, while real life is blowing by us. There must be a better way. In fact, there is a better way.
“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16
This is a powerful reminder to us about the time-wasting and purpose-stealing context in which we live, and the path to living brief lives that are loaded with significance. That’s right, your vapor can matter. We must REDEEM our time. The idea here is not one of Gospel/salvation redemption that comes through grace and faith. This idea of this redemption is like taking a gift certificate to a store, and actually getting the value that it promises. This is a revolutionary way of looking at our time! Our years, months, days, and even moments are all full of potential, but can only be realized when we redeem the gift certificate of time we’ve been given.
Unfortunately the analogy has a positive and negative corresponding reality. While the potential is real, it is so often left untouched and rendered useless. The gift certificate industry is a huge win for participating companies because they get the money, but often the certificates are never redeemed. Isn’t this true of our lives? The missed moments and lost opportunities lie scattered all around us. Thankfully, God has brought this to our attention. Your time is a gift certificate you’ve been given by God. You have no idea how much is on that card, but you do know it is limited. So, by His grace, start redeeming your time. Trade digital screens for real human faces. Trade distraction for focus. Trade waste for redemption. Make your vapor matter.