One of my summer reads this year is Louisa May Alcott's classic, Little Women. It is a book that I have wanted to read for some time, as I have long cherished the film adaptation starring Winona Ryder. My dear husband has had to sit through that movie more times than he would care to admit! Of course the book has been leagues better than the movie, making it a virtual feast for my imagination and a peaceful retreat as the whirlwind of my own little children swirls around me. Indeed, lingering in the home of the March family and exploring all of the nooks and crannies of their story has been such a joy.
One of the greatest joys of this book has been the opportunity to meditate on some of the spiritual lessons and themes that pervade its pages. Many of these lessons come straight from the mouth of the matriarch of the March family, affectionately referred to by her girls as "Marmee." For instance, take this little gem that she shares with her girls after they've experienced the uncomfortable affects of neglecting their necessary and good work around the home:
"Very good! then I am quite satisfied with the experiment, and fancy that we shall not have to repeat it; only don't go to the other extreme, and delve like slaves. Have regular hours for work and play; make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well. Then youth will be delightful, old age will bring few regrets, and life become a beautiful success, in spite of poverty."
I love the instruction to "prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well." It calls to mind this sobering principle found in Ephesians 5:
"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil." (Ephesians 5:15-16)
Time is such a precious commodity and the way it tends to slip through our fingers if you are not careful in the way you use it can be disheartening. I must admit that I am not an expert in employing it well-- fault has been glaringly exposed recently as the constant needs of the four little ones in our home bid for my attention.
More than ever I am in need of this reminder to keep regular times of focused work as well as play. Setting boundaries for each of these necessary and good activities brings greater peace and order to my home (as well as my own soul!). It is a simple principle, but one that takes much self-control.
Spirit, please continue to develop this character quality in my soul, allow me to redeem the time you've given me, and give me grace to glorify the Lord in my work as well as in my play.