Redeeming the Time
In light of the President’s extension of social distancing guidelines through the Month of April combined with orders from the Governors of Maryland and Virginia to stay at home, it seems as though all of us will have plenty of time around the house this spring. These are good days for us to consider what it will mean for us to ‘redeem the time’ and make it useful, both for God’s glory and our sanctification (Ephesians 5:15-17; 1 Corinthians 10:31).
Cultivating habits of mature Christianity takes time. Social scientists tell us that it takes between one and two months for new behaviors to become ingrained inclinations. So now is the perfect opportunity, isn’t it? We could emerge from this social drought more spiritually invigorated than ever before. Here are a few ways:
1. Study the Bible. Adopt a plan of working through the entire Bible systematically on a day by day basis. Many of us enjoy Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s plan, guiding readers through the entire Bible once and the New Testament and Psalms twice in the course of a year. Many others are available. Find one that suits you. Don’t be jostled off course if you miss a day or two, just dive back in.
2. Enjoy Communion with God in Prayer. How many of us wish that we prayed more regularly, for longer periods of time, with better facility in the Scriptures, and greater enjoyment of the presence of God? We all do. In his new book, Pray Big: Learn to Pray Like an Apostle, Alistair Begg says that prayer is spiritual but not impractical. Download and read the first two chapters of that book as a jump-start to get you going.
3. Learn a Catechism. Creatively thinking about how to imprint the Christian Faith upon their hearts, Reformers in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries turned to the scholastic method of catechisms. Now would be an excellent time for you and your family and friends to learn either the Westminster Shorter Catechism or Heidelberg Catechism.
4. Read Good Books. But don’t read ‘just anything off the shelf.’ Read books that will nourish your soul. Devote your hours to books that stand the test of time. Consider reading longer works that you might otherwise put off. May I recommend John Calvin’s Institutes, John Owen’s Communion with God, or C.H. Spurgeon’s two-volume autobiography?
5. Take an Online Course. Ligonier Ministries has generously provided all of their teaching series and study courses online for free through the Month of June. Furthermore, The Gospel Coalition offers a vast number of courses in Church History, Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology, and Practical Theology all for free. Enlist a friend, family member, or neighbor to take one of these with you and see where the conversations go. That would be time well spent.