Our family lives in a relatively old house, built in the late 1950’s. It’s a great old home that’s been through some renovations in the last years, but through all the gutting and knocking down of walls we’ve kept the same hardwood flooring that’s been there from the beginning. While it’s great looking, complete with all the divots and distressing that comes with 50 years of use, it also has some drawbacks. Namely, the noise.
I take great comfort in the fact that as our children grow to be teenagers there won’t be any sneaking out of our home because you can’t move anywhere without some kind of creak. While that’s a great tool for keeping potentially ornery teenagers in line, it does make things difficult for the tooth fairy.
When said “fairy” needs to sneak into a kid’s room at night and take the tooth from under the pillow, it’s often a half hour task that’s marked by stepping on certain carefully planned out places in the floor that don’t let out the tell tale creak. Those creaks have, more than once, awakened a child who then has wondered why the tooth fairy looks remarkably like dad.
You have to be careful when you walk in our house. Every footfall is made with a painstaking amount of agility for fear that you might just step in the wrong place. That kind of carefulness is defensive in nature. It’s like walking on eggshells with sweat beading up on our foreheads to make sure we don’t step wrongly. And while it’s true that the Christian life demands that we are careful where and how we walk, making sure we are avoiding sin in these evil days, the kind of carefulness that should mark us is much more offensive than defensive in nature. That’s the kind of carefulness Paul is advocating in Ephesians 5:15-16:
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk—not as unwise people but as wise—making the most of the time because the days are evil.
In this careful walking, Paul said that we should make the most of the time we are given. Literally, we are to redeem the time; we are to “buy it back.” That’s what redemption is. In the case of our common, human interaction, our time has been stolen by our supposed busyness. It’s been stolen by our inflated sense of self-importance. It’s been inflated by our use and misuse of people for our own ends. This is what needs to be bought back.
When you redeem something, you trade it in for something better. And because of what Jesus has done on the cross, these everyday interactions that come our way as we walk through life can be redeemed. Because we ourselves have been bought back by Jesus at the cross, the way we see everyone else who comes into our path is renewed. Our vision is transformed. We, in a sense, have the ability and the responsibility to look past the surface and on to something deeper. We have, as Christians, the opportunity to see in our fellow humans what they themselves might not even see themselves: “From now on, then, we do not know anyone in a purely human way” (2 Corinthians 5:16).
The carefulness with which we walk, then, is not born out of fear that we might be inadvertently involved in some kind of sin, but anticipation. We walk through life with our heads on a swivel, armed by the knowledge of what Jesus has done for us in the gospel and the confidence in the presence and work of God. We are constantly looking this way and that, believing that every interaction is significant. And we are committed to make the most of each one.
Excerpted from my book Boring: Finding and Extraordinary God in an Ordinary Life available here.