Make The Most Of Your One Ordinary Life

 Photo by Ember + Ivory

Photo by Ember + Ivory

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is (Eph. 5:15-17).

Our life is short and temporary. In the grand scheme of eternity, it is a vapor, a mist. It is also the only chance we have to live a purposeful, useful life. The choices that we make in this life will have an impact on the next one, and there are no second chances. Once this life is over, there’s no going back. 

If you consider this from a worldly perspective, your motivation will be to live selfishly in light of the fact that you will ultimately die. YOLO, am I right? Bucket lists abound because people want to experience as much of life as they can before it’s too late. And it’s true; at some point it will be too late. Time is the one thing that we can never get back. This is true for everyone, regardless of belief systems.

But if you are a Christian, this means something different. We live in light of what God has accomplished on the cross. We no longer live for ourselves, but belong to Christ. This earth is not our true home. There is something better that’s coming.

So consider your life.

When you step back and examine your life, does it reflect what you profess? Be honest with yourself. For practical purposes, here are some questions to prayerfully think through:

Are you always rushing around, but never accomplishing anything?

What are your top priorities?

What do you spend the most time on each week?

Do you have important responsibilities that get neglected?

Are you taking time to serve others, or does your schedule revolve around you?

All of us probably struggle with time management to some degree. And to be honest, this has been one of my greatest weaknesses. I'm terrible at keeping a schedule, and I used to be late to everything. I've never been a morning person (and I probably never will be), but I have to get up earlier if I want to spend uninterrupted time with God before the day begins. As hard as that is some days, I know that I can do all things through him who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13). This includes waking up early in order to start my day with the Bible and prayer, which is pretty much a non-negotiable.

But it's not just about waking up earlier or getting through your to-do list. It's more than productivity. It's also more than chasing experiences. Making the best use of your time means living each day purposefully, to the glory of God. This means something different for everyone, but redeeming your days and living well for Christ looks rather ordinary for most people.

 It’s serving your family by putting meals on the table.

 It’s inviting people into your home and going out of your way to serve others.

It’s scheduling date nights with your spouse and taking the time to make him feel loved.

It's walking with people who are lost and broken and hurting.

It’s using your gifts and resources to build God’s kingdom in the way that he's gifted you.

But in the end, we are still just living normal life. We’re just living it to the glory of God, making the best use of the time he's given us. This calls for wisdom, because a foolish person will squander their existence. But Christians have surrendered their lives. In order to understand God's will, we must use wisdom in all that we do, but also realize how humble the Christian life often looks.

Christ accomplished all the work that he was given to do on this earth, perfectly (John 17:4). But that also included a thirty or so year period where he was just a simple carpenter and obedient son, a fact that we often overlook. We don't know exactly what he did during the years leading up to his ministry, but the people he grew up with weren't necessarily impressed (Matt. 13:53-57). These years weren't full of accomplishment, not in a worldly sense. They were full of faithful, hard, regular work that nobody thought much of (except maybe his mama).

There were years as a Christian that I really believed the mundane, everyday tasks weren't really what counted at the end of a life. But for the majority, these are the very things that make up a life. And they absolutely matter to God. 

I thought I had to do something grand in order to make my mark, which left me dissatisfied and disappointed with my many limitations and the very real boundaries God had placed around me. You'll probably chuckle, but my actual dream was to be a missionary/archaeologist in a foreign country. I even got a degree and put myself through college as a single mom.

I know, I’m laughing too. 

Because instead, I got married. I settled down. I have a stepson who lives with us half-time. I homeschool our other son and stay at home. My days are spent meal planning and grocery shopping and trying to keep up on housework and struggling through math (which is super boring) with my third grader. There's nothing grand about it, nothing that the world would applaud. But God's kingdom is a kingdom in reverse.

Sometimes, he makes us really small.

The truth is, God is always at work in the simple things of life. He builds his kingdom in many ways, and we don’t ever have the full picture. The sacrifices that we're making right now matter to him, and he blesses our obedience. None of us get to see the full impact of what we do in this life, even though it’s wonderful when we get glimpses of it.

Making the most of our one ordinary life doesn't mean living big, but living big-hearted, even when it feels small and insignificant. God moves in the humble, ordinary, everyday, and it's through these simple moments that we are being changed.