This month Facets of Faith would like to introduce you to our guest writer Dawn Stewart. Dawn has a passion for Jesus that drives her obedience to following His call. She is one of the founding members of a ministry, Beautifully Broken, whose mission it is to equip and empower women to walk in the freedom of their true identity in Christ and to minister this freedom to their homes, churches, and communities. Join us in welcoming our guest Dawn.
As the Christmas season was underway, I found myself thinking about gifts. What makes something a gift? Well, for starters, a gift comes to us from an outside source, is given by the giver freely – something we don’t have to earn. We do not need to be deserving of or qualified for it. A gift comes to us because the giver desires to give it. It comes without our asking for it, at any time, and for any reason.
Our part is to receive, show appreciation, and gratitude for the gift. As a recipient, we get to make the choice what we will do with it. Sometimes gifts get used immediately, sometimes they get set aside and forgotten about, and sometimes they get returned or exchanged for something better. It’s entirely up to us.
Are you aware that one of the most precious gifts you or I will ever be given in this life is the gift of time? It is more precious than the most rare jewel, worth more than the most priceless artifact. It is something that we could never earn, don’t deserve, and aren’t qualified for. It is a gift freely given to us by the ultimate Giver – the Lord Himself. And only He knows how much of it we have. Only He knows the plans He has for our lives. (Jeremiah 29)
Our job as the recipient of the gift of time is to use it well. To live in a way that gives honor and glory to God. Our role is to make choices with the time we are given that we won’t regret later. The way we spend our time means a great deal to our Heavenly Father. We see this throughout His Word. In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told that there is a time for everything. In Psalm 90 we are reminded to number our days. In James 4 we are reminded that we do not know how long our time on this earth will be, or what tomorrow will bring. In Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts us to make the most of our days. These are just a few of the messages in God’s Word about our time here on earth. The Bible has so much to say on using the gift of our time wisely!
But what happens if we make choices with our time, which feel more like a waste of our gift than a productive use of it? What if we, like the Israelites, waste precious time wandering and complaining in the wilderness when we could have just gone straight to the Promised Land? Do we get a do over? Do we get another chance at this life to make the right choices? Are we able to start over and create a new path for ourselves? Do we have the power to turn back time? No! Not even a second of our time will be refunded to us. We can’t exchange it, and we will never get back the moments we have squandered.
So, are we without hope? Are we doomed to live a life fueled by regret, remorse, and guilt for the way we chose to spend our days? Is it possible to get back the wasted hours, days, months, or years?
We serve a pretty incredible God. You see I was one of those people who chose to squander away precious years of my life, living in a constant state of discontentment. I wasted so much time seeking purpose, pleasure, fulfillment, comfort and happiness – that I missed out on the real deal. I made so many wrong choices that led me down so many dark paths, that by the time I was 33 years old – I felt hopeless and stuck. I honestly believed that the sole purpose for my existence was to trudge through my days until I died. I had no idea of the abundant life that God had created me to live.
I was 35 years old when I surrendered my life to Christ, on the heels of discovering that I was alcoholic. Surrender happened after I recognized the depths of dysfunction that resulted from my choice to have an abortion at the age of 22. True submission to God came as I walked the road of divorce, and dealt with the shame and stigma of bulimia. Surrender came from a place of true desperation. Submitting myself to the grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness of Jesus happened as a direct result of coming face to face with my life choices. Facing up to the consequences of my actions hurt – a great deal. Walking through the pain instead of trying to escape, avoid, or numb it was difficult even on the best days (and still can be). For a while, I longed for a do over.
But God doesn’t just give us a do over. He does better than that! He actually restores and redeems our life! He takes the time we wasted and replaces it with new life when we come to Him! He gives us the gift of becoming a whole new creation as we submit ourselves to Him. His Word tells us that He actually gives us a new spirit and a new heart (Ezekiel 26:36). He restores the “years the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25) and puts us in a spacious place (Psalm 18) where we can learn how to live the abundant life He has called us to live.
So, do I need a do over? Do I even want a do over anymore? Not for a second. In the words of Paul, I focus on what lies ahead (Philippians 3:13) and not on what has already happened. God, in His great mercy, continues to restore the painful moments of my life by working them all out for good (Romans 8). He has used every one of my wrong decisions to minister to others and to bring Him glory in the process. It seems impossible when you look at it from a human perspective – that a woman like me could be loved and used by a God like Him. That is one of the things that makes our God so ridiculously amazing – He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). He didn’t wait for me to clean my act up before forgiving me. He actually died to forgive me before I even graced this earth – it was just up to me to receive that beautiful gift of forgiveness and choose to live the rest of my days on this earth for His glory rather than the pursuit of my own happiness.
Nope. No do over for this girl. If I had the chance to go back to the moments when I made all those poor choices, I wouldn’t try to change them. Because every one of those choices was a piece of the puzzle that landed me exactly where I am today. And there is not one single part of my life today that I would exchange – not for all the riches in the world! Praise be to the Lord!