Redeeming The Time Part 1

“How do you like your new job?” Erin asked.

I was talking on the phone to a married girlfriend and she was asking me about my first full-time job out of college as an exhibition assistant at a local art museum.

“I love it,” I replied enthusiastically. “It’s the perfect place for me right now, I can’t believe how God worked everything out.”

“Now all you need is a man,” she replied laughingly.

I laughed in return, but upon reflection I realized I was disturbed by her comment, even if it was said jokingly. It’s a comment I hear frequently now that I’ve graduated from college and have secured a full-time job. “So … you’re done with school, you have a job, when are you going to get married?”

I hope to be blessed one day with the gift of marriage, but it is a gift, not a right, and currently I’m blessed with the gift of singleness. If God, who supplies my needs for each day, has yet to bless me with such a gift, then it must not be a gift I need right now. Yet, just because I can rest in the fact that God will supply all my needs–­including a husband–doesn’t mean there won’t be struggles and temptations.

As single women, we are being encouraged by the world to waste our singleness on self-gratification and pleasure. The worldly examples of singleness on TV, movies, and in advertisements promote sexual promiscuity and the pursuit of wealth and career over family. Another source of struggle is the well-meaning Christians who constantly ask us when we’ll be in a relationship, thus, indirectly inferring that a single person is incomplete. It also can be hard to see lots of young couples building families all around us and remain focused on God instead of being covetous of what others have been blessed with. So, what are we supposed to do during this season of singleness that some dub as a time of waiting? This time of singleness should not be looked on as waiting in expectation of what the Lord may do in the future, but redeeming our present time to glorify him.

Webster’s Dictionary defines redeeming the time as using “time to the best advantage.” For Christian women, we should use our time to the advantage of the Lord. As Jani Ortlund says in her book, Fearlessly Feminine, “The fearlessly feminine woman accepts her singleness as the place in life where she can best experience God.” More importantly, Scripture says, “An unmarried woman or virgin is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit” (1 Corinthians 7:34). How should a devoted single woman redeem her time? This article covers four practical areas that we as single women can specifically develop for God’s glory: mind management, talents and interests, nurturing others and homemaking.

[MIND MANAGEMENT]

If we are going to serve the Lord with our whole being, we must start internally. If we are going to be content in the Lord, we must cultivate a relationship with Him. We must be passionate about the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, memorization, meditation, prayer and worship. Paul urges Timothy to “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). Spiritual discipline is easier said than done, and is connected to the discipline of the mind. Our minds must be focused to memorize, pray and read.

Bible intake, whether reading, hearing, memorizing, or meditating takes mental concentration. Most of us probably attend a church and listen to a sermon once a week. A practical way of getting into God’s Word is taking notes during the sermon to keep the mind from wandering. If I don’t, I find I’ll start thinking about what I want to eat for lunch or something like that. The sermon notes can serve as a source for deeper study and application later in the week. It is vitally important to make time with the Lord daily if our relationship is going to flourish. We are commanded to “devote [our] selves to prayer” (Colossians 4:2) and to hide God’s Word in our hearts (Psalm 119:11). At a time when many of us are busy rushing off to work, class, church, and other necessary and even God-honoring activities, how are we supposed to find time for Bible reading, prayer and other spiritual disciplines? Here are some creative suggestions of different ways to incorporate developing a deeper relationship with the Lord into our busy lives:

1. When you read a passage of Scripture ask yourself the following questions: What does this tell me about God? What does this tell me about me? What does this tell me about sin? How do I apply?

2. Listen to Christian radio and teaching tapes during your commute to work or school.

3. Pray during your commute to work or school.

4. Write short verses for memorization or meditation on an index card and stick them on the dashboard of your car for glancing at during a red light or sitting in traffic.

5. Create a prayer box out of a shoebox. Cut a slit in the top and as you think of people or situations to pray for or about, jot them down on a slip of paper and stick them in the box. Then, everyday, take a few out and pray over them.

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6. If you’re having trouble praying, select a Psalm of David to pray over, putting yourself in David’s place. We can all ask the Lord to “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1).

This list is certainly not exhaustive, but hopefully it will encourage us to creatively and diligently make a priority out of developing a love relationship with the Lord, before we worry about developing a romantic relationship.

[DEVELOPING GOD-GIVEN TALENTS AND INTERESTS]

I’m sure there was something you always wished you could do: play the guitar, sing, draw, act, dance, or get better at a certain sport. Although we’re very busy as singles, we have a certain amount of liberty we won’t have when we marry. We probably don’t have to work around someone else’s schedule or find a babysitter if we want to go camping for the weekend. Now’s the time to develop those talents or interests God has given us. Not only will it give us satisfaction, but we can find some way to use those talents to serve Christ as well. Make a list of things you always wished you could do or learn and start figuring out how to accomplish them. If you always wanted to act, get involved in a church Easter or Christmas production. Learn how to rock climb, take photography lessons, learn how to play the piano, or play on a women’s softball team. One friend of mine started taking voice lessons after work because she wanted to learn to sing correctly and eventually used her musical gift within the context of Sunday morning worship. If you aren’t particularly gifted in a specific area that you’re interested in, don’t let that hold you back. You can still appreciate music by attending concerts, art by visiting a museum, or sports by attending games. Such outings can also be used to cultivate fellowship with others around you.

God gave us our talents and interests, and if we develop them we can use them for His glory in our local churches or in our immediate communities. “Each man has his own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.” (1 Corinthians 7:7). Don’t settle for spending every evening vegging out in front of the TV. Develop what God has given you.

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