Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Your ticket to one wild ride

Do you take God seriously? I mean, do you trust Him when He promises to bless you for obedience? When God tells you to do something and you do it, what do you expect will happen? Do you think He’s just going to turn His back on you? Do you think He’s asked you to do something just to watch you dance like a puppet on a string?

God doesn’t work like that. Yes, there are many times when we’ll encounter situations in our lives that will test our faith, but it’s never God dangling a carrot in front of our faces to see if we’ll bite.

So when you obey, when you do what God has told you to do, are you ready for what comes afterward?

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:15-16.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

God told me to do something a few years back, or at least He put the germ of an idea in my head. At the time, it wouldn’t have worked. If I would have tried, I would have failed. And even though the idea fascinated me, I didn’t hear Him telling me to jump up and do it.

And throughout the years, God kept bringing it up every now and then, kind of like a tickle at the back of my brain. “Hey, don’t forget about this! This is something I want you to do, but you’re not ready yet.”

A few years later, actually in August of last year, that idea came rushing back on me again stronger and louder than ever before. And this time I couldn’t tune it out. This time I couldn’t ignore it.

So I didn’t. I did what He was telling me to do. And guess what? He held up His end of the bargain. Way more than I expected Him to. In fact, He’s opening doors so fast that I can’t keep up. It’s all I can do to keep holding on as He takes me on what will probably be the craziest ride of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited.

But why does that surprise me? Why do I expect failure when God has never given me reason to doubt Him? I guess it’s not that I doubt Him; I just doubt my interpretation of what He tells me. And that’s why it’s important to have people around you who are on the same page as  you spiritually, to confirm what you think you’re hearing.

But how many times has fear of failure stopped me in my tracks? How many times have I not done what God was clearly telling me to do because I was afraid. I don’t want to think about it. But I need to. We all need to.

I learned today’s passage in an older translation that used the phrase “redeeming the time.” I always used to wonder what that meant. And, it’s true, it does mean to make the most of every opportunity like the newer translation says, but there’s something really beautiful in that phrase: redeeming the time.

Taking the time that might be wasted otherwise (in worrying, in anxiety, in purposeless pursuits) and using it to accomplish something for God. That’s redeeming the time. And that’s what we’re called to do. Why? Because the days are evil.

And they are. We’ve never lived in darker days. More people are persecuted for their faith in Christ today than ever before. More people are trapped in darkness than ever before. More churches are being closed due to scandal than ever before.

Frankly, Believers, we don’t have time to waste. So if God has called you to do something, don’t just stand there. Do it. You have a certain amount of time that’s been allotted to you. Some have more than others. But whatever you have God gave you for a reason, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He hasn’t put you where you are for no reason. He hasn’t walked you through all your difficult circumstances just to test your mettle. He’s got a plan for you, and because He’s good, so are His plans.

So do you trust Him? Do you take Him seriously? And if you do what He’s asking you to do, are you ready for the ride He’s going to take you on?

Don’t doubt that it’ll be wild. Because once you tell Him yes, you’re going to see amazing things happen, things that no one else will be able to explain, things that may only mean something to you–but they’ll mean something to you. And that will be enough to remind you just Who you’re working for.

You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Neither am I. Nobody is. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. So stop fooling around and get busy doing something that will matter when eternity gets here.

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Make hay while the sun shines

I have been struggling with my focus recently. I mean, more than normal. Usually my focus leaves something to be desired anyway, but in recent months I haven’t been able to stay grounded on one topic long enough to finish anything. Maybe I’m too busy. Maybe I have too many things going on. Maybe I finally reached the limit of how much multitasking I can actually do, and my brain has given up trying to keep it all straight.

Granted, it’s not like I’m late to work or forgetting about responsibilities or anything like that. I just don’t feel like I’m getting as much done as I should be. And when I sit down to work on a project that’s hanging over my head, I can focus for about five minutes. And then my brain wanders off to something else. And as a result, I don’t finish anything, and I actually start more projects.

What’s wrong with me?

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Hay bales - Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verse is Ephesians 5:16-17.

Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.

It’s easy to forget that we’re on the clock. It’s easy to get trapped in the thinking that life will move forward as it always has. But a day is coming when life is going to change drastically, and when that day comes, we will be out of time to accomplish real things that matter.

I live in the middle of 640 acres of wheat and alfalfa. None of it belongs to me, sadly, but through the 18 years I’ve lived here, I’ve enjoyed learning about how different farm life is from life in the city. In the city, you can procrastinate for extraordinary lengths of time because of all the conveniences. But out here? Not so much. If you have an opportunity to get something done on a specific day, out here, you need to do it. Because if the opportunity passes you by, it may not come again until it’s too late.

Making hay is one of those things. I’m sure many people have heard the idiom, “making hay while the sun shines.” I first heard it in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, The Long Winter. But the concept of making hay on a sunny day is exactly what this verse is talking about. You can’t make hay when it’s raining. The hay gets moist and hard to handle, and then it molds. You have to make hay while it’s sunny. You have to take the opportunity when it presents itself, and you can’t put it off. Otherwise, you’ll lose it, and it probably won’t come around again.

I have so much to do. I have so many projects on the back burner and not enough time in my lifetime to accomplish them all, and when I get the time to work on them, the load is so overwhelming I don’t even try. Does anyone else understand how that feels? Maybe it’s work. Maybe it’s school. Maybe it’s family or friends. But you have so many responsibilities on you that it seems futile to even try to make any progress because it won’t make a difference. It’s a horrible feeling.

So what do we do? How can make the most of every opportunity and stay sane? I think I’ve tried to take every opportunity that’s come my way, and as a result I’m drowning. I’ve been treading water for years. Maybe that’s why verse 16 is followed by verse 17.

Don’t act thoughtlessly. In the Amplified Version, that means “vague, thoughtless, foolish.”

If you’re going to take an opportunity, know what it’s going to require of you first. Know how much of yourself you’re going to have to invest before you agree to do it. And if you don’t have enough of yourself to give, don’t take it. Because a good opportunity can easily become a distraction.

We can’t just live life without thinking. We can’t just agree to everything that comes our way because eventually we’ll hit a wall, and then all the opportunities we’ve agree to accomplish will lay uselessly on the side of the road waiting for you to finish them when you no longer have any interest in them because you’re so burned out on everything else.

So maybe it’s clear how to avoid jumping into opportunities you don’t have time for. But what do you do when you’re neck-deep in something you can’t give up on?

Well … the verse doesn’t say you have to finish it, I guess. It just says to make the most of it.

Do your best. Prioritize. Step back from the whole mess and sort through everything you want to accomplish and decide what matters most, and then focus on that and let everything else go. Then, when you finish it, move on to the next thing. And when you’re tempted to move to something else? Think about before you start it. Ask yourself if it’s really an opportunity or if it’s just a distraction.

You can eat an elephant, but you have to do it a bite at a time.