I know many people who think they don’t have enough stuff. We all feel that way at times. But people of faith, like myself, have learned to trust God, have learned over time that God is faithful and will provide all the resources, all the “stuff” we need. Not everything we want or crave. Not even everything that we “think” we “need”… But we share the conviction of Hudson Taylor who famously said that “God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.” God sees to it that we have all that we need to be able to do all that we need to do.
But how often do we forget that same faith principle when it comes to time? Time, like the rest of the created universe, is a gift – we are stewards of it, it is good, it is all we need. Yet how often we catch ourselves saying, “If I only had more time!”
But listen: God gives us time – every moment of it – as a gift… and as we learn to become “friends of time,” we realize that “we have all the time in the world we need to do that we need to do in the world.”
As counterintuitive as that seems – (“What? There is no WAY I have all the time I need!”) – when we stop viewing time as a
commodity (of which there is never enough) and start seeing it for the gift it is, we learn this truth.
The process of becoming a friend of time is pretty much a lot like just becoming a friend. You have to want to… and you have to take the time to. We miss this connection between time and friendship because our lack of friendship with time deeply inhibits our ability to form friendships with people.
Presence, actually BEING with people, not just doing things, is important to ministry… essential actually. Presence means taking time seriously. Truly loving one another, requires us to be present to and for one another.
A lesson learned from disability ministry: To be with a person with a disability requires one to slow down and take time to notice small things that the world sees as unimportant, but which, when you take time, are revealed to be profound.
John Swinton describes a seminary professor taking his class to visit his wife, who had a disease which severely affected her memory. Thanking his students in advance, he said, “She probably won’t remember you afterwards…, but in that moment she will appreciate you.”
It might be only a moment. But that moment matters.
Every moment matters.
Time is not an empty block waiting for us to fill it. Each moment, when seen as God sees it, is filled with meaning, new possibilities, hope for the future. That means that taking time with each other is meaningful, purposeful… even though it doesn’t always feel that way. We need to learn the value of presence in the moment, particularly when we spend time with those who cannot provide anything of value to us.
We spend a lot of time “in time” – moving backward and forward in it – honest-to-goodness “time travelers.” Through memory, we are always moving backward and forward in time, reflecting on, even reliving, the past, sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with regret. And we plan for, dream about, worry over, the near- and far-term future. But all to rarely do we pause to take time to consider the meaning and significance of the present moment.
I’ve decided to slow down and reclaim time for the purposes for which it was given to us. I need to learn what it means to be in the moment, to notice that small things that the world rejects or explains away.
I’m learning to live differently with time. I start by reminding myself “where I’m at.” As I look out from the porch over the creek, watching the heron take flight, I am reminded by, and give thanks for, God’s creation, for “all creatures great and small.” “My world” is actually situated within God’s creation; so I also inhabit God’s created time, and God created time for a purpose. Time doesn’t just happen (any more than the world does); it’s created by God, sustained by God, and directed by God.
Time matters. Living in God’s created time means, if nothing else, that time is intentional, meaningful and purposeful.
The writer of Ecclesiastes wrote that “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:… God has made everything beautiful in its time.”
I can’t see the beauty, or the promise, or the true value in a person, in a moment, in an idea, unless I apprehend what time it truly is. And that time is not displayed on the face of a clock, but in the face of a friend; it’s not measured by hands moving across a dial, but hands reaching out in love, welcome and acceptance to another.
Embrace them both.
This post is the last in a series that begins here.