Meditations for Troubled Times
“Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:15-16 ESV)
How is your time being spent during these evil days? Do you spend your time acquiring knowledge of dinosaurs, unicorns, or storks? I had a relative that, throughout his life, memorized all the traits of T-Rexes and how their descendants through (millions of?) years turned into something else. Have you tackled some obscure intellectual pursuit, like the six tapestries of “The Lady and the Unicorn” from 16th century Europe? What does the stork know that many people don’t? Jeremiah 8:7 says, “Even the stork in the sky knows her seasons; and the turtledove and the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration; but my people do not know the ordinance of the LORD” (NASB, 1977). Are we seeking to enlighten our senses and experiences for our own pleasure? Are we looking at screens six to seven hours a day? Are we being careless with the gift of time?
Isaac Ambrose was a Puritan Presbyterian who was appointed in 1631 as one of the four itinerant preachers of King Charles I of England. Before he was ejected from the Church of England in 1662 because of his refusal to conform to the Book of Common Prayer and the subsequent persecution and incarcerations, he preached a funeral for Lady Margaret Houghton at Preston, Lancashire on January 4, 1657. His sermon was entitled “Redeeming the Time,” based on Ephesians 5:15-16. He used dozens of questions and answers to help his audience wrestle with misuses of time, and then he contrasted these with Lady Houghton’s wise use of time. Ambrose reflected on the meaning of redeeming time. He preached that we should avoid anything which would hinder us from taking the opportunity to do good to all men. We must not say doing no harm to someone is making use of our time. We are not making good use of our time as believers by not doing harm only, instead we must work at improving others (Galatians 6:10).
Rev. Ambrose also discussed why time must be redeemed. He said that it is the command of God to employ our talents even to make up for lost time. If we loiter in our business in the morning, don’t we need to make up later in the day for the minutes we wasted? This is true even more so when doing the Lord’s work (John 4:34-38).
Rev. Ambrose concluded his sermon by sharing how Lady Houghton redeemed her time in life and in death. In life she practiced consistent morning and evening meditation and prayer in pleasant walks or private chambers. He commended her for having a house that was a “college of religion,” with books for both quiet contemplations and holy conversations. As sickness took over her body, she was of a meek and quiet spirit, not given to passions. Even in death, she kissed the rod and submitted to God’s will.
Let us take time to reflect and ask ourselves if we are being careful or careless with the gift of time.