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Girlfriends in God - Oct. 28, 2009

October 28, 2009 
Time - Friend or Foe? 
Part 1 
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity..."

Friend To Friend 
Time management is a dreaded and often ignored spiritual discipline. We choose where to invest our time, carefully planning everything from coffee with friends to grocery shopping - but fail to schedule the most important activity of all, spending time with God. Being wrapped up in God's work can easily become a shabby substitute for being wrapped up in Him. Discipline carves out time to sit at His feet. 

Sin thrives in an out-of-control life, a life without godly discipline.  Temptation happily dances across overcrowded schedules.  Our minutes, hours and days are precious commodities, gifts from God that can be unwrapped only once.  We can become so busy meeting the needs of others that we destroy ourselves in the process.

I cannot tell you how many men and women I know who have given themselves away for so long that there is nothing left to give.  Marriages disintegrate, children rebel and purpose fades because flawed priorities dictate wrong living. 

Let me be very clear on this point.  Authentic living empowers and energizes.  I often hear people joke, "Why, I'd rather burn out than rust out!"  The problem with that statement is that either way - they are out - and the absence of godly discipline is too often the culprit behind life dropouts.  In an effort to prove our worth, we rush headlong through pointless days. I often hear the flawed thinking, "Mary, it's true that I am very busy, but I am busy doing good things." Those words were the cry of my heart, just before I crashed and burned, landing in a pit of clinical depression, a monument to my insecurity. 

From the bottom of that pit, it was easy to see just how skewed my perspective of time really was. I had poured years into making my plan successful only to discover that God resources and empowers His plan alone. It was painfully obvious that I needed an attitude adjustment, an eternal perspective kindled by godly discipline. I needed to understand that my time is not really mine but a treasure on loan to me from God.  Every plan, priority and goal must be held against the backdrop of eternity because it is from that backdrop that our priorities are validated, our calling confirmed and our time best invested.

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?" The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister ... please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do," He pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop." 

With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother. He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up."  Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. "Thank you and God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home.

It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!" God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts and sometimes, when we are busy and think we don't have time to listen, He may even throw a brick at us to get our attention.

Let's face it.  If we don't set priorities for life, others will. Time thieves will steal the hours and days as we allow them to impose their plans and demands on us. While it is true that different men and women have different priorities in different seasons of ministry, it is also true that one priority remains steadfast. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God" (Matthew 6:33 NIV). Once that priority is firmly established, the rest of life will simply fall into place. 

Godly priorities embrace God's plan.  I am convinced that much of our frustration in life comes from doing things we were never intended to do.  We create the plan as we go instead of resting in the plan He has for us.  Discipline guides each step and establishes a basis for obedience and success.

Let's Pray 
Father, please help me slow down and really see my world and the hurting people in it. I no longer want to waste time. I want to invest it wisely according to Your plan for my life. Give me the strength to establish and keep my priorities in line with Your purpose.  I surrender my agenda to You, Lord.  Be glorified in it.

In Jesus' name, 

Now It's Your Turn 
Set aside some time this week to get alone with God. 

Make a list of your priorities - your real priorities. Take a look at your calendar and wallet for hints as to what you think is important.

Do those priorities line up with God's plan for your life?

What changes do you need to make in order to live each day in obedience to God?

More From The Girlfriends 
With the holidays just around the corner, my thoughts immediately turn to family, friends and time. I really want this holiday season to be meaningful and as stress-free as possible! So I am starting early!

Mary has two NEW E-Book Bible Studies available!  I Need a Friend and Time: Friend or Foe? (from which today's devotion was taken). These studies are perfect for personal or small group study.  Each study is presented in an attractive PDF format, is easy to download and copy on your home computer and includes a helpful study guide as well.

Need gift ideas?  This year, why not give gifts that are life-changing?  Enroll a friend or family member in Mary's weekly online bible study, Light for the Journey.  The current topic is 7 Habits of a Powerful Life.  

Browse through Mary's online store for that perfect gift of encouragement - a book, CD, MP3 download, E-Bible Study and special gift items.

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Matthews, NC 28106

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Originally published Wednesday, 28 October 2009.