When you were born, God stamped an expiration date on your life’s calendar. Every year, month, week, day, hour, and second were included.[1] Therefore, every second wasted cannot be recovered, not one blink of the eye, nor can you save some for later use; that time is lost forever. But there is a vast difference between the mind’s conviction and the proper disposition of the heart, resulting in diligent, dutiful practice of proper time management.

One meets with many souls who are most perfect and saintly in what they believe, but “by their fruit you will recognize them,’’ the Savior of the world has said. It is an essential rule if it is fairly dealt with, and by this, we must judge ourselves.

Time bears a very different aspect at different seasons of one’s life, but one maxim applies equally to all seasons: No time should go by uselessly. Every second forms a link in God’s chain of foresight. Every season carries with it various responsibilities of God’s appointing. We must give account to Him of how we used them from the first to the last moment of life. God never meant for us to look at any minute as having no purpose.

The important thing is to know how He would have us use it. And this is to be learned, not by restless, fidgety eagerness, which is more likely to confuse than enlighten us, but by a pure, upright heart, simply seeking God and being diligent in resisting the deceits and tricks of self-love as quickly as we recognize them. Keep in mind; we waste time doing nothing or something inappropriate, and doing things that arc in themselves are not part of God’s plan for our life. We are strangely ingenious in perpetual self-seeking, which worldly people do openly, those who want to serve God sometimes do with more refinement, under some pretext that hides the faultiness of their conduct.

One general rule for the correct use of time is to accustom yourself to live in continual dependence upon God’s Holy Spirit, receiving whatever He wills to give from one moment to another, referring all doubts to Him. Then, where an immediate course of action has to be taken, seek strength in Him, lift your heart to Him whenever you become aware that outward things are leading you astray or tending toward forgetting all about God.

Blessed is the soul that by sincere self-renunciation always abides in its Creator’s hands, ready to do whatever He wills, not weary of saying a hundred times daily, Lord, what will you have me do? Teach me to do Your will, for you are my God. Send forth your light, Lord, to guide me; teach me to use the present time for Your service, forgive the misuse of what is past, and may I never blindly count on an unpredictable future.

As to business and outward duties, we need only to give straightforward, diligent heed in keeping with God’s wisdom. As all such obligations result from His plans, we have only to accept them dutifully, subordinating our dispositions, fancies, inclinations, self-will, perfectionism, and restless anxieties –our natural impulses to do what we like. Take care not to let yourself be overwhelmed by outer things or be utterly immersed in external interests, however necessary. Every undertaking should begin with a definite view of God’s glory, continued quietly, and end without excitement or impatience.

Time spent in society and amusement is generally the most dangerous time for oneself, though it may benefit others. Therefore, be on guard, that is to say, be more faithful in remembering the presence of God at such times. You need then to cultivate the watchfulness so often urged by our Lord – to use aspirations and to lift your heart to Him as the only source of strength and safety: otherwise, you can scarcely hope to be kept from the subtle venom so often lurking amid society and its pleasures.

Spare time is often the most pleasant and beneficial for oneself. It can hardly be put to better use than renewing your strength (bodily, mentally, and spiritually) through personal communion with God. Prayer is so necessary and is the source of so much blessing that when once the soul realizes its gifts, it will hardly fail to seek as often as it is free to do so.[2]

Archbishop François Fénelon


[1] Hebrews 9:27; cf. Job 14:5; Psalm 39:4

[2] Fénelon, François: Paraclete Giants, The Complete Fénelon, Translated and Edited by Robert J. Edmonson, Paraclete Press, Brewster, Massachusetts, 2008, pp. 54-55; Vocabulary and grammar redacted by Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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