No, that’s not the total number of gifts in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song (actual answer is 364). Rather, that of course is the number of days in this new year.
Having a reminder of this simple fact is not a trite matter. You are commanded to number your days in order to appreciate them and walk wisely in them (Psalm 90:12). Indeed, this entire psalm reminds us of how fleeting life is, which makes this task all the more important.
Recently I read that the Information Age has not created more time with all of its speed, but has resulted instead in the “compression of time.” Rather than having more time because of all our time-saving devices, we have less time to respond between events. Whereas before this age you might take a day or two to call someone back or a week or more to respond to a letter you received, all the incredible ways to communicate today create a constant pressure on you to respond.
Imagine for a moment each method of communication having a leash – a text leash, a FaceBook leash, an email leash, etc. No wonder you feel like you are being tugged on all the time!
The pastoral concern I have for myself, my family, my friends, and my readers is that we can be tugged away from God. These wonderful means of communication draw us away from the meditative life necessary to commune with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. True time with the Lord cannot be rushed. We need to use wisely the gift of each day he has given us.
Jared encouraged us yesterday about making resolutions, and here also is a helpful article by Tim Challies on the subject. Let me suggest five simple ones for encouraging a meditative walk of wisdom with the Lord.
Make a daily appointment with God. Whether it is your exercise routine, business meeting, a public worship service, or sporting event, you schedule your appointments. In the same way, you should not expect time with God to just happen.
Give the Lord some of your time in the morning. Though differing temperaments, work & family schedules, biorhythms, etc., can mean you are not a morning person, yet still you should start your day off in some way that acknowledges who the Lord of it is. At the heart of gaining wisdom is being able to express this sentiment with the psalmist: “O satisfy us in the morning with Your lovingkindness, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days” (Psalm 90:14).
Have a plan for your meeting with Him. Again, most appointments have some type of agenda. Time with God is the same. Decide how you will pray, read, sing, journal, etc. If you need some daily reading ideas, here is a bunch of them from Ligonier Ministries. Also, here is the STAR program that I use that has flexibility built into it.
Get away from the gadgets for a time. If you were in a conversation with someone important, and every five minutes an alarm went off, would it not disrupt your ability to communicate? How can you meditate on the God of heaven and earth with a guaranteed distraction in your pocket, in your hand, or by your side? Yes, you might use your gadgets to read your Bible, study, list your prayers, and so on, but the tugs mentioned above will be there if you do. Just set them aside for a little while, take a deep breath, and see how good it feels.
Go outside. To know the Creator of our days, being outside in his creation helps to that end. Read Psalm 90, and you are struck with how many reference to the creation is contained in the psalm. And, yes, go outside even when it’s cold! Stepping outside even for a few moments of reflection is refreshing to both body and soul. Spurgeon said that the next best thing to God’s grace is a breath of fresh air.
We need to receive gladly and use well each of these daily gifts. Remember, 365 have already been used since the last time you celebrated New Year’s. None of us really know if we will be allotted all of them again in 2015. So “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).