It is a dangerous time because each may find a sense of loss of purpose in their lives. There will be temptations that will come to fill their lives with garbage. Jim may be tempted to give up and become a potato couch or get into get rich quick scheme. Sally may be tempted to spend her time partying. Peter may be tempted to lay in bed and watch TV. Bill may be tempted to dream about what he will do when he gets out. Paul may be tempted to fill his life with fishing. What are they to do?
There are also temptations to allow anger, fear, worry, depression, and undesirable addictions that they may allow into their lives. Often people who find themselves with nothing to do, get physically sick. It is not uncommon that some people even die a short time after retiring from a lifelong occupation. Furthermore, many will isolate themselves from church, their longtime friends, and family. Some may even fall into a world of day dreaming or fantasy. "By much slothfulness the building decayeth; and through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through" (Ecclesiastes 10:18). What can they do?
First, one should
look at what he by faith can do and not focus on what he can't do. "...for
whatsoever is not of faith is sin" (Romans 14:23b). On one occasion, I
got the flu and was to be off work for a couple of weeks. I decided that
I was not going to waste the time. I had my wife to buy a couple
of books on Praise for me to read. It was one of the best experiences
in my life. I learned to praise God while I was in the bed with the
I had a friend that could not find work. He was very limited in his mental and physical skills. He said that he couldn't do this or that he couldn't do that. Finally, I asked him, "What by the grace of God can you do?" He said that he could wash windows. Therefore, I encouraged him to wash windows. We are to live on the faith that God has given to us an not on someone else's faith.
Second, one can look to see what he can do to benefit others on a volunteer basis. I had a friend that had got out of the military and had to wait a couple of months for his wife to get out before they moved. He volunteered to help at the church. I began to disciple him in making gospel tracts, making hospital visits, and in witnessing. He found his time waiting very beneficial to his life. In fact, he later went into the missionary field because of the time that he volunteered working at the church. One may do volunteer work helping with distributing food to the elderly. One pastor that I know, retired from the pastorate and became one of the greatest evangelist around the area. He spends his time sharing the Gospel with others. Another pastor that I know, retired and began to visit nursing homes and praying for elderly. He has a more lively purpose than when he was getting paid for being a pastor. Jesus said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35b).
Third, one may set aside quality time to spend with a spouse or loved one. One year, I was out of work and could not immediately find a job. My wife took a leave of absence. We found ourselves facing each other at home. We began to spend time walking together. It was part of a renewal for our marriage. One may spend time with his parents. If he was working, he wouldn't have the time. It is a good time to reassess and reestablish relationships. It may be just the right time to reassess our relationship with God also.
Fourth, one may spend the time cleaning up his house or office and begin to reorganize in a better fashion. Sometimes, we get so busy that we lay organization on the shelf. Free time, may provide an opportunity for us to get reorganized. We should remember that God is not a God of disorder, but a God of order (I Corinthians 14:33, 40). This time is also a good time to reset priorities. What do we spend the most time doing?
Fifth, this time is a good time to submit oneself to authority. Sometimes we get so busy with our work that we forget about those in authority. Therefore, free time is a great time to examine our relationship with those in authority. If we have not submitted ourselves to the authority of a local church, this time is a good time to do just that. "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves; for they watch for your souls, as thy must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you" (Hebrews 13:17). It is also a good time to pray for those who are in authority over you (I Timothy 2:1-4).
Sixth, often we get so busy with life that we lay aside the Word of God. Fee time is a good time to get back into the Word of God. We need the Word of God as our daily bread. "But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Paul told the young minister, Timothy, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (II Timothy 2:15). Here is the opportunity that you have been looking for to do that Bible study or Scripture memory work.
Seventh, seeking to have a daily fellowship with God is especially important at this point in time. Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). Again, Jesus spoke to the church of Laiodicea, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and sup with him, and he with me" (Revelation 3:20). Jesus wants to fellowship with us. We have to take the time to open the door and invite him in. The main way to fellowship is through prayer. Prayer is of essence at this point. Although it is good to have a special place and time to pray, we can have a continuous dialogue of prayer during the day. It doesn't have to be vocal. I often pray silently as I counsel or write. I also try to be good listener to hear what God would say to me.