If you were suddenly given extra time, what would you do with it? What if you unexpectedly found that much of what fills your calendar – sports, meetings, activities, school, vacations, even commuting – was canceled until further notice. What would you do with what might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity? These are the kinds of things that have happened for many people here in our city of the over-committed.

This became clearer to me last night after meeting (via Zoom!) with the men of our Community Group. Two things brought this to mind. First, one of the guys pointed us to Ephesians 5:15-16, Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Second, as I reflected on what I’d heard in our conversation and prayer, it occurred to me that most of these guys had found themselves with unexpected, unplanned time, and were doing a wonderful job of making the most of the opportunity they’ve been given.

Of course, not everyone finds themselves with more time. Some are experiencing more responsibility and less time. Whatever our situation, we are all being tested during these strange and unexpected days, aren’t we? I just came across an email I sent only two weeks ago asking what would need to happen for us to cancel our Sunday service and go online. Two weeks? That seems like a thousand years ago!

As Christians we recognize that, no matter what is happening, there are two ways to live, or “to walk” as Paul writes in Ephesians. The foolish will walk in futility (5:17), never satisfied and seizing each opportunity to indulge in more self-centered, sensuous impurity (5:19). Wise people will set a course of life worthy of the calling we’ve received, imitating God (5:1), walking in love (5:2), and as children of light (5:9). Wise people think about what they’re doing and make good use of the time they have. Wise people recognize that our times are in God’s hands and times of testing like this can make us stronger later.

How can we make the best use of this time? I was inspired by what I heard from the guys in my Community Group and I’ll pass along some of what they are up to:

  • Calling a grandmother who lives locally and bringing her groceries
  • Taking regular walks
  • Engaging the family by playing games together
  • Starting family devotions for the first time
  • Husband and wife praying together
  • Working on projects around the house
  • Reading Scripture and good books
  • Caring for a sister with special needs
  • Looking out for neighbors by staying in touch

Free time can easily slide into more time watching TV, playing video games, soaking in social media, or sinking into the news, and there’s nothing wrong with these things in moderation. But how different might we be in two months if we seize this unique opportunity and begin to establish patterns of praying more? Or reading strengthening books and Scripture? Or deepening relationships with those in our family, household, church, and community? Or developing healthier patterns of sleep, diet, and exercise? Or more selfless patterns of serving those around us in need?

Out of the disruption and unsettledness of these days, God has a good plan to remodel us in ways that probably wouldn’t happen in our normal routine. Let’s make the most of this opportunity with the aim that we become more like Christ.

Mark Mullery

P.S. Got comments or questions about this post, or ideas for another one? Email me at midweekmusings@rgcfairfax.org.