“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
– Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV)
The author of Hebrews tells us to not neglect meeting together as some were apparently doing at that time (Heb. 10:25). But in his book Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Cures, Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes that the whole of life seems to be organized in such a way that we can occupy ourselves at any moment with any number of distractions. He even includes Christian meetings in those distractions. He claims, “Meetings are good and excellent, but let us beware lest we become so dependent upon meetings that one day when we find ourselves ill and laid upon our bed we do not know what to do with ourselves. We can become too dependent even on Christian meetings—even on a Christian atmosphere” (282).
We are good at distracting ourselves, aren’t we? Whether it’s obsessively taking in the deluge of media coverage on COVID-19, mindlessly scrolling through social media, binge-watching Netflix series, searching Pinterest for activities to keep our kids occupied, tackling one house project after another, or choreographing viral-worthy TikTok dance videos, we have more than enough of the world to keep our minds occupied.
Lloyd-Jones isn’t saying our Christian meetings aren’t good. We’re called to meet as brothers and sisters in Christ to learn from and encourage one another. But what he issaying is that we’re so good at distracting ourselves that we can even use our Christian meetings to do so, and we can become dependent on them over knowing God alone as our all-sustaining source.
Well, now our meetings have been taken away, and what are we doing with the time? We have a unique opportunity with more time than usual on our hands to focus our gaze on things above. Are we making the most of it? Some of us still have to work. Some of us have to homeschool our kids or finish our own schoolwork. There are projects that need to be completed. And we should stay connected with our church through live-streamed services, Zoom calls with small groups, and phone calls or FaceTime chats with accountability partners. We should intentionally check on one another and serve one another as much as stay-at-home orders allow. But instead of distracting ourselves from the discomfort of the moments where we feel like we have nothing to do, we should take advantage of the extra time quarantine has probably allowed us all to be silent, to draw near to the One who has given us new life in Christ, to the One who has given us a future and a hope beyond Coronavirus, fear, and death. Instead of wondering what we can do to keep busy, we need to ask, “What can I do to draw close to my God, my Savior, my King?”
The Christian life takes intentionality. Throughout the New Testament we are commanded to put off the old self, put on the new, to set our minds on the things of Christ, and to make the most of the time. We’re going to make mistakes, and we won’t be consistent, but we have been given the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, the Holy Spirit, to live faithfully and give God our best effort. My encouragement to you now (and to myself) is to make your main priority developing habits of grace that will last beyond quarantine: meet with God daily in His word, replace mindless tasks with communion with God in prayer, and intentionally share with your spouse, your kids, and other brothers and sisters in Christ what the Lord is teaching you. Let yourself be uncomfortable with the quiet and with the downtime, and bring all that you’ve been trying to distract yourself from thinking or feeling to the Lord and wait on Him as He fills your heart and mind with the profound truths and promises that are yours as heirs with Christ.
More Ideas for Redeeming the Time:
- Go to bed at a decent time so you can wake up early and begin the day in God’s word.
- Instead of scrolling through social media posts, put your phone down and spend time praying for specific people. You could call someone whose posts you would have looked through and ask them about specific ways to be praying for them and then do it right there. Or you can sit in silence and meditate on all the good things God has given you and praise Him.
- Designate certain nights as “no-TV” nights, and instead, read a book on Christian living or theology or a biography of a faithful follower of Christ from the past. (If anything, this will make you want to go to bed sooner!)
- Start a family worship habit—morning devotions with the kids, family worship nights, writing worship poetry together, reading through the Gospels after dinner, memorizing a chapter or book of the Bible together (you can do this with a friend, too), etc.
- Take care of your physical body with good sleep, exercise, and healthy food choices. (When I slack on any of these, it can affect my mood and my attitude toward others.)
- Feel free to send me more ideas as you think of them!
Bible Study Tip
In the last post, we mentioned the “Comprehension” stage of Bible study. Here is some more helpful information for that stage:
Looking for repeated words and phrases can help you gain a sense of the main points of the passage. If it’s repeated, it’s probably important!
Marking transition words can help you link ideas together. Click here for a list of transition words.
John Piper produces a helpful resource called Look at the Book, which consists of a series of videos demonstrating how to mark words and phrases and link them together, similar to what Pastor Dave does during his messages with his iPad. Watching these videos can help you see how repeated words and phrases and transition words help draw out the ideas expressed in a given passage of Scripture.
Links in this section are Amazon Affiliate links to books we find helpful
When we’re young, it’s easy to believe in the supernatural, the mysterious, the enchanted. But as we grow older, we learn to be more “rational” and more confident that reality is merely what we can see. Even as Christians who believe in the resurrection, we live as if miracles and magic have been drained from the world. Exquisitely written with thoughtful practices woven throughout, this book will feed your soul and help you recapture the wonder of your Christian walk.
Three seemingly unremarkable principles shape and strengthen the Christian life: listening to God’s voice, speaking to him in prayer, and joining together with his people as the church. Though often viewed as normal and routine, the everyday “habits of grace” we cultivate give us access to these God-designed channels through which his love and power flow―including the greatest joy of all: knowing and enjoying Jesus.
A free downloadable version of this book is available at DesiringGod.
The Gospel Coalition’s new podcast provides a biblical perspective on its listeners’ most pressing questions. From tithing to sexual identity to suffering, the (usually) short episodes are great personal resources and are also great for sharing with others.
For the Kids
Park Terrace Village, the nursing home next to Westwood, has asked if kids will draw or color pictures for their residents to cheer them up since they can’t see their families due to current visitor restrictions. Pictures can be dropped off at the church for delivery.
New City Catechism Question 3:
How many persons are there in God?
There are three persons in one God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
(Remember, you can download the New City Catechism app, put it in “Children’s Mode,” and access fun songs to help your kids remember the answers to these helpful theological questions!)