Yesterday, Kim and I sent all four daughters off to begin their school years.  My youngest (Maicy) started Kindergarten, my third (Annie) started 2nd grade, my second (Elly) started 5th grade and my oldest (Maddy) started 6th grade! Maicy, although a little less energetic than normal, was totally ready to start Kindergarten. Annie and Elly walked into school and disappeared...they did not seem to need me or Kim at all.

But about one hour before these younger three started their day at Cherry Knoll Elementary, Maddy started her first day ever at East Middle School.  She was dressed in her cute "first day of school" outfit and I had the privilege of driving her. On the way we talked and prayed together about the start of this new season of her life.  She is no longer in elementary school, she is a middle schooler (6th-8th grade) and will face challenges that are new and potentially far more difficult than anything that she has faced so far.  

I mean this was big. Big for her and big for her parents! We pulled into the drop off lane, waited for our turn, she gave me a hug, then she got out of the car and walked off into middle school. But it felt like she was walking off into the future. I sat in the car and watched her. It seemed like in that split second she had become a young lady. I cannot explain to you the intense emotions that began to fill my heart as I watched her walk into that (what seemed like) gigantic building.  I was so proud of her and I was stunned at the same time. Those 11 years went by in a blink. Will the next 11 go that fast? Faster? Is she ready? Are Kim and I ready? Does she have good friends?

The cars behind me were waiting. There was nothing left to do, but drive away with the lump in my throat and my suddenly moist eyes.

As God would have it, I read that very day in Colossians 4 the call from the Apostle Paul to us to make "the best use of the time" (vs. 5).  How intimidating.  On the day my oldest child is starting Middle School, God wants me to think about how well I have used my time?!?  I immediately began to think of all the missed opportunities that I had to pour into her.  The times I was too busy to talk, too tired/lazy for family worship or not home to listen to the events of her day.  I quickly found a pile of regrets.

And then God began to fill my heart with other thoughts.  I began to realize that along with my failures there was a great deal of evidence of God's faithfulness to our family and to Maddy.  She is a great kid.  She is kind and loving.  She has professed Christ as her Savior and is growing in her understanding Jesus.  She has a church family that she cares about and who cares about her.  She has parents who love each other and love her.  God also helped me see that He had granted that day...those very minutes and, although I do not know the future, that I will likely have many more minutes with Maddy.

See one option is for us to be in despair as we look back at the ways that we have not used our time well.  Another option is for us to make grand plans about how we will use our time well in the years ahead.  God offers the Christian something better. He offers the freedom to repent of the ways that you used your time poorly, thank him for His faithfulness and then use THIS day's time well.

I wish I was a better father. (I wish I was a better husband, friend, and pastor, too.) But the best thing I can do for my daughters (wife/friends/church) is use today well. To find out what God says is good and pursue that today. Then wake up tomorrow and pursue that tomorrow as well.  

It is so helpful to think minutes, not just years.  Use today's minutes well because, as we have all experienced, the years do go by in a blink.

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