I grew up believing the maxim, “If you waste a minute, you’ll never get it back.” No wonder I have tendencies to be a workaholic, struggling to have days off, take regular vacations, or even enjoy a lazy, unproductive evening.
Although I’ve made some progress in reversing this mindset in recent years, the whole issue got triggered again when I called a friend recently and asked him what he was doing. “Oh, I’m just killing time tonight,” he said.
Killing time? I found myself wanting to scream inside. How could anyone want to kill something as sacred and holy as time? Hadn’t my friend read Paul’s admonition in Ephesians 5:16 that we should make the most of our time?
But before blurting out anything stupid, I caught myself. I started having flashbacks of all the ways God had tried to deal with me on this issue over the years.
I remembered my first year in law school, when I studied nearly all my waking hours, seven days a week. Despite this heroic commitment to my studies, my GPA was less than 2.5—just a C+.
I wanted to do better my final two years, but it seemed impossible. I had already worked my hardest, just to get mediocre results.
When I asked the Lord for a new strategy, I was shocked by His advice. “Jim, you need to take a day off every week. No work…no studies…a day with no agenda.”
I was horrified. What terrible advice! I thought. If I only got a C average while studying seven days a week, how would things getting any better if I worked only six days?
Despite my misgivings, I followed God’s direction during my final two years—and the results were dramatic. To my amazement, I suddenly became an A student, one of the top performers in my class. I even won an award for being the most improved student!
Little did my professors know my secret: studying less and making sure to “kill time” each week.
This experience was a powerful message from God about the “sabbath principle”—the fact that having six days of work with His blessing can be more productive than seven days without His blessing.
Yet I’ll admit, I still hate to see time go to waste. And I still need God to change my perspective on what truly constitutes a “waste” of time.
At age 40, Moses fled from Egypt and spent 40 years taking care of sheep in the wilderness. If that were me, I would feel like my life was wasting away. But that’s not how God looked at things. This 40-year period of obscurity was part of the Lord’s training ground for Moses’ next 40 years, when he would lead the Israelites through the wilderness toward their Promised Land.
But the subject of wasting time came up again recently when I received an email from a friend who was going through a divorce after 10 years of marriage. “I feel like she just wasted 10 years of my life, Jim,” my friend wrote in frustration.
What would you say to person in this kind of situation, who feels as if someone else has “killed time” that will never be regained? Fortunately, the Scriptures provide this great promise about what God can do when we fully turn to Him after suffering losses:
I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust (Joel 2:25).
Isn’t that incredible? God not only can restore lost minutes, but He even can give us back lost years. Wow.
So if you’ve seen some of your time killed, whether through your own actions or by someone else, don’t despair. God can turn things around. His favor can reverse your losses. He can restore lost time in astounding ways.
The starting point is to make sure you’ve truly put your time in God’s hands (Psalm 31:15). Then get ready for a resurrection of your “dead” time, your lost hopes, and your abandoned dreams. Nothing committed to Him is ever wasted.