If you happen to live in a place that changes with the seasons, you know what it is like to go outside during the winter months and “see your breath.” If you happen to be shoveling snow, you will see this quite a bit! It reminds me of the verse, “You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”James 4:14 I want to take a moment with you and reflect on this thought. Have you considered how fast our time on this earth is? For me, the older I get, the more I find myself thinking about it. When I was a young mother, my days were so busy that I admit, I did not spend time contemplating death. (Some days I would have to stop and think hard to remember if I had slowed down long enough to eat!) Now, as an older woman, I am still busy, but when I see others around me dying, that are not much older than I am, reality hits hard. My time too, will come to leave this earth.
What do I want to be remembered for? Have I used my time wisely? If this new year coming were to be my last, would I want to do things differently? Acts 17:26 states, “…and He made from one, every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times, and the boundaries of their habitation.” For reasons only the Lord knows, you are WHERE you are, at what TIME you are. We then have the free will to choose the path that our life will go. Acts 17:27 continues, “that they should seek God.” Our Creator makes it clear, that if we live by our “Instruction Manual” we will search for God and do our best to please Him while our “vapor” appears for this short time.
Where do we see people wisely using the “appointed times” in the Scriptures? If you have been following Melissa Hite’s fantastic studies on the book of Esther, then you are familiar with Mordecai’s words, “And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14) He is reminding Esther that the events in her life have been directed by God. Did she make wise use of “her time”? The Jews in the province would surely give a resounding “YES!”
How about two midwives that we read of in Exodus chapter one? Their names are Shiphrah and Puah, and the king of Egypt had given them orders to put to death the male children of the Hebrews (Exodus 1:15). What did these wise women do? Exodus 1:17 tells us, “the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.” They feared the consequences of God, evidently more than what the king could do to them. What was the end result? “And it came about because the midwives feared God, that He established households for them” (vs. 21). They were blessed with families of their own because of the obedience and fear of God.
Another woman who comes to mind is Abigail. 1 Samuel 25:3 is where we are introduced to Abigail and her husband, Nabal. She is described as “intelligent and beautiful in appearance,” while Nabal seems just the opposite-”harsh and evil in his dealings.” This is a time in biblical history when David is fleeing from King Saul, and he and his men have a stronghold in the wilderness of Paran. They have heard that Nabal is shearing his sheep in Carmel, and David has sent ten men to Nabal to see if he will give food to he and his men because it is a “festive” day (1 Samuel 25:8). It seems that due to his nature, Nabal turns David’s men away with insults (vs. 10-11). One of Nabal’s young men relays the happenings to Abigail, and she scurries into action. Read 1 Samuel 25:18 to hear of the abundant gifts she prepares for David, and then delivers them in person along with very gracious words (vs. 23-31). The end result is that David confesses he was on his way to kill every male in the household, and Abigail has kept him from avenging himself (vs. 33-34). What wisdom Abigail used to spare her household! She could have fled and saved herself, but she chose not to. She turned a time of slaughter into a time of salvation. The Lord then struck Nabal and he died, and Abigail became one of David’s wives (vs. 42).
Coming to today’s time, I would like to share some examples that I see of a wise use of their “appointed times.” I have a dear friend who is recovering from cochlear implant surgery. She has lost a lot of hearing in both ears, but the ear she had surgery on was diagnosed as “unaidable.” She wears a hearing aid on the other side and has learned to lip read and use American Sign Language. She could choose to wallow in self-pity that her hearing has been taken, but she does not. She is thrilled that this has happened to her in such a time of amazing developments in technology! In years past, only hearing aids were available. They are expensive and some would amplify every sound in the room, and can be very hard to get used to. She is also thankful for her husband’s job, that provides great health insurance which allows her to have the surgery in the first place. She continues to praise God for His providential care and for Him working out all things for the good (Romans 8:28). I thank the Lord for her godly example and positive attitude.
Two of my daughters work as nannies. I emphasize to them that God has put them in these families’ lives to make a difference. Maybe they are there to teach these little souls about God because perhaps their parents will not? One family is having marital struggles. Is my daughter there to show the children that even though their family is unstable, there is a never-changing God who is always the same? (Hebrews 13:8) I love it because my daughters will bring their nanny children over to my home daycare sometimes and we have play time and story time together. I never want to miss an opportunity to teach a Bible story and sing songs of praise to Him. Who knows what will happen to the “seeds” that have been planted?
I have another dear friend who was born and raised in South Africa. She also has worked as a nanny, and came to the United States to live with a family and care for their children. She has been a citizen now for many years, but what impresses me about her is her choice to “bloom where she is planted.” They travel a lot with her husbands’ job, so they have lived in many states. Probably the most opposite she could get from her homeland is Minnesota! Yet, what I see in this woman is an incredible servant– wherever she is. She is a fantastic baker and has put smiles on many faces with her delicious treats. She never “sits on the sidelines” but jumps in to help, serve, love, listen, and be a prayer warrior. She is an inspiration to me.
So, what about you? What are you doing with your “appointed time”? As Christian women, we need to be ever watchful of the opportunities around us to let our “light” shine. We can plant seeds of God in any situation if we choose to engage in others’ lives. Switch your cell phone to silent as you go through a store- smile at others and greet them instead. Talk to the checker at the grocery store, and the coach of your children’s sporting event. Take time to bring God up in the conversation-who knows where it will go from there?
What lasting impression will your “vapor” leave behind? “Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Editor’s note: This article was originally posted December 16, 2013
by Robin Martin
Robin and her husband, Randy, work with the Lord’s church in Rosemount, Minnesota. They are blessed to have 7 children and 10 grandchildren. She is ever grateful for the grace of God and His undying love.