Tonight is New Year’s Eve and that means that billions of people around the world will stay up longer than they normally do for the momentous occasion of…watching a clock strike 12! Of course, there’s much more to that moment than just the passage of time. If nostalgia doesn’t rise within you when you hear “Auld Lang Syne” you may not have a pulse. New Year’s Eve naturally brings us to a recollection on the past and hopes for the future. If you’ll pardon the pun, it’s a good time to think about…time.

Most of us don’t think about time too much, but maybe we ought to. In many ways, how we look at our personal journeys through time determines the experience of our life. If you think about it, we really only have three ways of experiencing time: we can lose time, we can mark time, or we can redeem the time.

Losing time is the easiest way to pass through it. We simply don’t pay attention to the passage of time, and therefore don’t put enough value on it to think carefully about how we ought to spend it. The latest manifestation of this comes when many of us engage our many screens (be they television, laptop or smartphone), and while planning on “checking out a thing or two” come to find that valuable minutes–or sometimes even hours–have passed.

If ignorance of the passage of time is one mistake, at other times we take the opposite approach: figuratively staring at the ticking second hand of a clock by spending so much energy bemoaning the passage of time that we again neglect to consider how to use this precious commodity well.

Right in the middle of those two extremes–neither ignoring the passage of time nor obsessing about it–is the sweet spot. Here, we accept the passage of time as a God-given gift and consider how to use it best. It is clear to those who want to see it that physical space is the Creation of God: the entire universe, from the vastness of outer space to the inner world of each and every molecule, can be seen as the product of God’s creativity.

We recognize less often that the instrument, which he gave us to experience that created world–the passage of time–is also a part of His Creation. And if He made it, and subsequently gave it to us, then it’s up to us to wisely consider how to spend it.

And this is what I will be referring to as Redeeming the Time. We redeem what would otherwise be an unwise use of time, neither by wasting it or obsessing over its passing, but viewing it as the gift of God that it is, and then wisely choosing how to spend it. Seen this way, every moment is a gift from God which will remain unnoticed and unopened unless we choose to see it for what it is and receive it with all due gratitude.

We’ll be spending some time in the New Year focusing on this in a four-part sermon series, “Redeeming the Time.” Each Sunday in January, we will examine a different aspect of our journey through time, and how we may journey well.

We can waste our time losing it. We can spoil our time simply marking it. Or we can redeem it. As we approach the end of another year, let’s begin this New Year with an appreciation for God’s gift of time and learn better how to receive this ongoing gift which He gives to us to open, enjoy, and delight in, one moment at a time.