When you (think you) lose some hours. “Oh!!” I groaned. Ten a.m. I had fallen back asleep, though I had planned to be at my desk by eight and stay till noon, for four uninterrupted hours of writing before the day fogged my brain. As I lay there, I became aware my back felt better.
“Hmm, Lord. Maybe I needed the extra rest?” While washing my face, feeding Lily, eating breakfast, and tidying up, I talked silently with the Lord.
“Father, I give this day to You, although it is not going as planned. Help me stay with You this next hour as we tidy up and do our little walk. . . “ After the walk, “Father, I give these next two hours to You as we write.” After that, “Father, I give these next few hours to You as we get groceries, then pick up the boys and play with them.”
How did the day turn out? Wonderfully blessed! I got some writing done, and errands, and then, because I had decided to make the afternoon especially special for the boys, after pickup from school we curled up together on the bed and watched “The Lorax” on my laptop, then played Chinese checkers until Papa picked them up. Then, I devoted the three hours of evening to God, as we ate dinner, had devotionals and then some down time before bed.
Changing habits of the heart is hard. Plenty of my days do not feel as organized and purposeful as the one I just described, but by God’s grace, I am learning to better redeem the hours of my days. Ephesians 5:16-17 tells us to “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. “(NIV)
God keeps us in peace when our mind is stayed on Him (Isaiah 26:3, NKJV)–when we are stuck, fixed, infatuated with, embedded, smitten with, and preoccupied with Him. Initially, I became absorbed with keeping my mind on God – and off me and my troubles!– when God began healing depression more than two years ago. By His grace, I learned to take God’s Word like the medicine it is and meditate, speak and think about His truths all day, deliberately, until it became a habit. (This is the foundation of the book about depression on which I am working and for which I ask you to pray.)
Even so, sometimes discouragement, hopelessness, and feelings of worthlessness attacked, as did fear that depression and anxiety would ensnare me yet again. One day, while fighting those feelings through reading my Bible, an idea up: I can give each hour to God. I stared out the window and prayerfully pondered.
“When I’m struggling, like now, I can focus on one hour at a time, like the “one day at a time” AA and Al-Anon slogan. I can get through anything for an hour if I consciously lean on and think about God and His Word.”
Advancing the Kingdom each hour. As a retiree, I was especially susceptible to feeling my life was unimportant, even though I knew better. But that day, I told myself:
“Right here, alone in my house or as I run errands, I can do something that advances the Kingdom of God. I can praise and thank and worship God, I can write (my individual place of service for the Lord), I can pray for others, I can text or call someone, I can work God into the brief comments I exchange with the grocery store checker – AND IT ALL COUNTS FOR THE KINGDOM!!!”
Each hour of each life is cherished by God. The feeling that such things do not really “count” is just lies from the enemy! God is with us always (Hebrews 13:5. Every day (and that includes each hour!) has been ordained by God (Psalm 139:16). And Psalm 37:23 says:
“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies himself with his every step]. (AMPC)
God says He is immersed in and focused upon every step the righteous take.
Each word of our adoration and praise and trust is attractive, or comely, to God, it blesses Him, and advances His Kingdom. God tells us in Psalm 147, which is a jubilant hymn of gratitude and praise, to: Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God, for He is gracious and lovely; praise is becoming and appropriate.”
When David says in Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” he is showing us that when we praise God we bless God, and we actually do good for God. We make Him happy. Now, that is something to think about!
And Psalm 34:3 says: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” So when we praise the Lord, when we talk about His goodness, when we speak highly of the nature of God, we are magnify or increase the Kingdom. And that applies when we are alone and praising Him as much as when we are with others.
We can ALL give God each hour. No matter your situation, nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) and we can purposefully give God each hour of our day. No matter how (apparently) limited or how busy your life may be–whether you are retired, living alone and struggling with health issues, a mom with four kids under five, a CEO, college student, a devoted dad working two jobs–you can give God each hour.
You may have to give Him segments of your day sometimes when you cannot stop to connect consciously with Him. If you have a job that almost literally leaves you no time to think until lunch or you have four straight hours of classes or you have little ones in your care, you can consciously at the start of your day, even if it is just a few words, give God the next four hours, the next portion of the day. Regardless, you can dedicate every activity of your day to God and include Him in it. If you are not free to speak out loud to Him, speak to Him silently in your heart; He knows your thoughts. (Psalm 139:5)
God promises to guide our steps. Ponder Psalm 25 over and over until your heart absorbs the same attitude—and confidence!–David had when he wrote this psalm. David depends on God and asks God to show him his ways, his paths, and the way chosen for him. David reminds himself that BECAUSE the Lord is “good and upright, therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” (v.8 and 9, NIV) Clearly, if we are trying to please God with our daily life, He will guide us! Praying this psalm to God each morning never fails to encourage my soul.
Key Bible truths to cherish:
- Each hour of my life is planned by God. (Psalm 139:16)
- God is with me every moment of every hour of my life.(Hebrews 13:5)
- I can honor God with this one hour. Even if all my plans and hopes for the day fall, I can honor God, in some way, in this one hour, and then the next, until I lie down and He blesses me with His sweet sleep (Psalm 127:2)
- God sees me this moment, alone in my house (or wherever I am alone) and “I will walk within my house in my integrity and with a blameless heart.” (Psalm 101:2b, AMPC)
Purposefully giving God each day and each hour helps us be focused, thoughtful and wise in using time. It helps us “number our days aright” so that we can live wisely (“gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12, NIV). At the start of this writing, we read Ephesians 5:16-17. Ephesians 5:16-17 tells us to:
“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, (16) making the most of every opportunity because the days are evil. (17) Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.“(NIV)
Verse 17 in the AMPC says:
“Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”
To me, this means we are not to be vague in our approach to daily life. In other words, we are to give purposeful thought regarding the best use of our time and we are to be aware of and work in line with (to “firmly grasp”) the things God wants to be done, or what His will is.
These verses appear in a passage the NIV labels “Living as Children of Light” (Ephesians 4:17-5:21). They are one of many passages where the New Testament instructs us to how to walk in the light. Walking in the light has many blessings, as I John 1:5-7 tells us:
(5)This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all. (6) If we claim to have fellowship with Him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. (7) But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin. (NIV)”
Deliberately, consciously dedicating our time
to God is wise!
A sample prayer of dedication for each hour or segment of your day:
Dear loving Father, I thank You and praise You for all You are doing. I choose to purposefully give You this hour of our life together here on earth. I know You will guide me regarding what to do, as You promise in Psalm 25 because I am asking You to. I know You will also give me your strength, as You promise in Psalm 68:35. Thank You, Lord, for Your compassions, which are new every morning and which never fail, as You tell me in Lamentations 3:22. I love You and I trust You!