I started a long overdue project recently that has caused me to reflect on Paul’s command that we should be redeeming the time. I converted all of our family analog 8 mm videos to digital DVD’s. Like most projects, this one turned out to be more involved than I expected. First, our old video camera would not start no matter what I tried. After a fruitless search on E-bay for a replacement camera (they were too expensive), I finally was able to borrow a really old and big camera from a friend. At least his worked—sort of! The camera would play the tapes for a while but then would stop. That meant I would have to check the progress often and crop portions if there was a time of empty recording. It took much longer than I expected to finish transferring all the tapes.
The tapes went back as far as 1992 when we received the camera as a gift. Most of the tapes covered our time in Red Feather Lakes. Each year I seemed to record the same events: several concerts and recitals, Thanksgiving, the day after Thanksgiving finding and cutting a Christmas tree in the woods, decorating the tree with me up on the extension ladder (we always cut about a 14 foot tree), birthdays, many school programs and graduations, and, occasionally, our vacations.
As I watched portions of the tapes being recorded, it was as if a portion of our life passed before me. My kids were young and cute when the videos started (eight and four years old) and I had darker hair and more of it! People and events I had forgotten came flooding back, often with a feeling of nostalgia for those long ago times. I wisely remembered that a video only captures the highlights and not the “lowlights” that we tend to forget.
This intensive, video induced trip down memory lane has caused me to reflect on Ephesians 5:15-16. I realize that although I can edit those videos (perhaps shorten them), I cannot edit my circumstances, my responses, my attitudes, or anything about the way I used my time in the past. In a sense, I am a product of all that took place but none of it can be undone. I can only resolve to improve my walk, my movement through life in the future. This passage speaks of four ways that we can improve our movement through life in 2011.
First, we must move through 2011 with a careful walk. Paul commands us to “walk circumspectly” (vs. 15a). This speaks of an accurate and exact assessment of our movement through life. We must have alertness and exercise great care. Often, I’m so wrapped up in the busyness of life that I live it without much assessment. I’m about to have my annual physical, which is meant to be an accurate assessment with the idea of discovering any problems and making some corrections. Suppose we conducted an annual spiritual, marriage, parental, emotional, and financial assessment—in short, a “whole-person” assessment and made some corrections! Such an assessment would certainly be fulfilling the command of this verse.
Second, we must move through 2011 with a wise walk. Paul tells us we are to walk “not as fools, but as wise” (v. 15b). For any believer and especially a Village Missionary, wisdom is putting Biblical truth into practice in our life. The world’s wisdom surrounds us and constantly seeks to get inside like a termite trying to eat its way into our inner structure. Worldly wisdom regarding our value, our identity, how we measure success, the response when persecuted, the importance of acclaim, the importance of money and security may affect our thinking as Village Missionaries and sabotage our ministry. Would that Biblical wisdom govern every response to the unforeseen circumstances of 2011!
Third, we must move through 2011 with a profitable walk. Paul tells us we should be “redeeming the time” or in the NASB, “making the most of your time” (v. 16a). This is literally “buying up or redeeming the opportunity.” In the words of one commentator, we are to “purchase all that it offers.” The word used for “time” is not hours and minutes but fixed periods or seasons. Thus, a profitable walk is a strategic walk in which we use our time on earth to its greatest advantage for God’s Kingdom. Today I regret missed opportunities in 2010 to share Christ with the lost. Will I lose similar opportunity in 2011? I regret I did not redeem more opportunities with my children in those years covered by the tapes. Will I be strategic in this coming year?
A friend recently told me of a business opportunity he missed a few years ago. The old story—if he had only invested such and such then it would have quadrupled its value now. We possess unlimited spiritual capital but so often fail to do anything but keep it buried in the ground (cf. Mat. 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-27). Perhaps not in 2011!
Finally, we must move through 2011 with a guarded walk. Paul warns us “the days are evil” (v. 16b). The word “evil” speaks of “vicious, active wickedness.” True of Paul’s day, it is equally true of our day. How easy it is for us to fall! How easy it is for us to begin a self-deluded journey that destines us for the self-destruction of our marriage, family, and ministry! Perhaps we would not succumb to internet pornography but could easily succumb to the lust of pride. Financial impropriety might never be a temptation to us but we might quickly subscribe to faithless discouragement. We must be on guard in 2011, knowing that the enemy of our souls has enough ammunition within and without us to cause our harm if we are not alert. “Be on the alert!” is a command that often rings out from the pages of Scripture.
We seem to take family videos very infrequently now, although our digital camera would allow us to do so. The days of concerts, graduations, etc. are over for us until perhaps grandchildren come around. Yet, whether captured on video or not, our days in 2011 are precious gifts that will pass all too quickly. Let’s walk carefully, wisely, profitable, and guardedly in the year to come!