Pre-script: This article is a combination of efforts between Angie Huffstutler and I. Angie has been married to Dan for 20 years. They have three daughters – Karis (16), Faith (13), and Makayla (11). They have lived in East Africa for 10 years as missionaries. My words are in italics while Angie’s are normal.
We have seen memes on social media asserting that if you don’t come out of quarantine with a new skill, it is not time you lacked but discipline. We have seen all manner of parading of quarantine activities. From baking and cooking to reading books. Others who have nothing to show for their free time have remained sheepishly silent.
As believers, we are not necessarily under pressure to account for our time especially to strangers online. But we know that we are accountable to the one who created time and seasons, and therefore, we are careful to spend our time well during this season.
I asked Angie for practical ways through which believers can occupy the seemingly endless time we have in our hands. Here are some of her thoughts:
Redeem the time with unbelievers. I believe that even with this global pandemic, God is doing something, a spiritual awakening, with people searching for hope and answers. As we see God ready the hearts of the people He is drawing to Himself, we then look for windows of opportunity to redeem the time by sharing the gospel, providing a word of encouragement, or meeting a physical need. The harvest is ripe!
Redeem the time as a believer. As Christians, we are called to give thanks in everything, even in suffering. The Lord has given us “extra” time it seems. What to do with it? Redeem the time. Use this time to take advantage of His means of grace. If you’ve struggled to set a daily routine of communion with God, now you can!! Use this time to nurture your soul with the Scriptures and seek God’s face in prayer.
Redeem the time with your family. As we find ourselves at home more with our spouses and children, it’s very easy to become impatient, grumpy, and annoyed. These times with your children especially are so precious. God has given them as gifts to steward for Him. You are His ambassador to your children. They are only in your home for a short period. How are you showing Christ to them? Redeem this time to have long, meaningful talks with your teens, to sit and sing, read, and play with the little ones. Bake, paint, and dance with them! These are acts of love. But most importantly, foster the discipline of openly speaking of Christ’s work in your heart. Be honest, transparent, and real with your children. My husband and I are reading a book with our 3 teenage children called Growing in Godliness: A Teen Girl’s Guide to Maturing in Christ. We look forward to good conversations after dinner!
Spouses, use the extra time at home during curfew to create inviting atmospheres for meaningful conversations that you’ve neglected over the last few months. Use this time to confess sin, share fears, catch up on life, and pray together! These times of intentional conversation can lead to intimacy that may have been lost lately too.
For some, the quarantine season is a respite much needed. Many people were caught up in the busyness of our daily lives. This, therefore, is a time for rest and recuperation with no hurry to attend to daily business or expectations for performance. We are therefore at liberty to sleep late and wake up late. While this is fine, it can be dangerous because we throw all our habits out of the window and acquire new ones that can render us unproductive in the long run.
Stay in a routine as much as possible. Children find security and stability in routine at home- e.g. wake up time, meal times, structured times for activities, etc. It is the same for adults. As much as possible, maintain a normal routine. Fill the extra time with the things listed above. Pick the books collecting dust on your shelf and read, take notes, make an outline, and share with a friend. Pray and reach out to church folks, neighbors, and family. Try your hand at cooking new things or baking if you have an oven. Pinterest has lots to choose from! Get out and exercise if your area of residence allows. The Lord has given us beautiful weather! Clean out a couple of closets in your home! Share the items with someone in need. Be a light in your area and redeem the time God has graciously given to us.
The psalmist prays to God, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Matthew Henry, commenting on this verse, says, “Lord, give us grace duly to consider how few they are, and how little a while we have to live in this world.” We can join in this prayer as we live lives reverent to the Lord in how we spend our time not only now, but always.