The Danger in Killing Time

Here we are again, at the start of another school year.
School time
School time
School time
School time
Most of the schools in our area began last week.
We actually launched into school four weeks ago, but that is another story.
In our home, this is the time when the lazy days of summer come to a close and the busier school days begin to ramp up.
It is the time when we look toward the year ahead, consider which activities we want to participate in, think about how busy we want to be.
That is, when we are at our best we take in all of these considerations. Too often we merely fall into all the activities because our kids want to do them, because they sound fun, because a friend is already doing them.
Even if you do not have children at home, it is often easier to thoughtlessly agree to the busyness than to take time to reflect on what would be the wisest use of time.
Easier in the short term, that is.
odd time
killing time
valuing time
Time is an odd notion.
We even speak of time in an odd way.
One saying that comes to mind is “killing time.”
Such a sinister phrase.
The time you are killing is, of course, your own time, and we are given precious little of it as it is.
It seems that our default, the default of a great many people in this world, is to simply get through our lives, killing time, living on the surface of things.
It takes such enormous effort to break through the outer crust and into the very depth and marrow of life. We wonder whether it is worth it.
So many of us
are so bad at hearing each other and seeing each other that it is little wonder that one life seems enough to them or more than enough: seeing so little in this world, they think that there is little to see and that they have seen most of it already so that the rest probably is not worth seeing anyway and there is nothing new under the sun. ~ Frederick Buechner in The Hungering Dark
Yet with only a small amount of effort, we can break through the surface of things into the beauty and joy that lies just below the outer crust of indifference.
With only a small amount of waking up, of paying attention, we can open our eyes to the wonder and variety that lies in the people and places all around us. Especially in the people and places most dear to us.
We often look for ways to make the days go by faster, wishing the years to pass quickly in order to move on to some other phase of life, while we completely miss all the joy, beauty, and wonder in which God has placed us.
This missing out on all that God has waiting for us is the danger in our busyness, the danger in merely falling carelessly into all the activities rather than choosing deliberately and wisely.
You often hear the advice that if you keep busy, it will be over before you know it, and the tragedy of it is that it is true. ~ Frederick Buechner

Art credits: World Time by rizeli53; Clock Tower by Miriam Wickett; Ornate Clock by Kevin Tuck

Taking Time

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I’ve written before in this space about the beauty and goodness of time.
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I’ve written about this time we are in now, the thousands of years between creation and restoration, and how the delay of Christ’s coming is a gift to us.
I’ve written of the idea that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Jeremy Begbie, Resounding Truth
Sometimes, though, it is easier for me to accept this idea in the abstract than it is to accept it in my own little life.
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It is easier to be okay with Christ’s delay in returning, because that feels a long way off anyway, than it is to be okay with a delay in God fulfilling a dream that I think is His will for my life.
I feel sure that I am not alone.
We think that if God wants us to do something, to accomplish some purpose, then it should happen now. Or at least within a year or two. If it doesn’t happen quickly, perhaps it really wasn’t God’s will.
I am certainly guilty of this thinking. I dream of writing in a way that changes hearts for God. I dream of articles and books, of ministry that is a part of the story of God’s kingdom.
When I get yet another rejection, I wonder if perhaps I was mistaken. Perhaps God does not want to use my writing after all.
I forget.
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I forget about Joseph who spent thirteen years in slavery before becoming second to Pharaoh. I forget that it took Moses forty years to get from the burning bush to Canaan. (Yes, I know he didn’t actually make it to Canaan, but that’s another story for another essay.) I forget that David waited over twenty years from when Samuel anointed him as king before he actually became king over all of Israel.
Like many of you, I forget that part of fulfilling God’s purpose means delay. It takes time to become what God created us to be.
Would Joseph or Moses or David have been the leaders they were without the waiting? Would they have been able to live out God’s story and lead His people without the process that shaped them into those very leaders?
No.
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And neither can we do anything within God’s story without allowing Him the time to change our hearts into the beauty He intended.
Whether it takes thirteen years or forty, we must accept where we are now, we must be faithful and obedient now, trusting that waiting is not bad, that delay is not ugly.
Growing into our role in God’s story takes time, so rather than chafing as though it were a setback, let Him use that time to make you into who He created you to be.
It will be beautiful, I promise.

Art credit: World Time by rizeli53; Ornate Clock by Kevin Tuck; Just In Time by Adrian van Leen; Clock Tower by Miriam Wickett

Beautiful Messiness

I hear a story about a company that allows you to rent a grandma.
Grandmother
I am intrigued and turn up the volume to learn more. I learn that you can rent a grandma of your own ethnicity who can teach you about your roots. She will teach you your traditions and will teach you how to cook your ethnic foods.
Gram and A cooking
As I smile to myself and think about the silliness of the idea of renting a grandma to try to fill a space that can only be truly filled by someone who has known you from birth, who knows your good and your bad and yet loves you anyway, my mind drifts off to what I might wish to pay someone to accomplish for me.
Cleaning my home. Birthdays. Decorating my home. Planning a vacation.
The more I dream about not having to do any of those things anymore, however, the more it occurs to me that perhaps hiring someone to plan a birthday party or to clean my house is not really all that different from paying someone to be a grandma.
Both are about avoiding a process that might be a bit messy and difficult, as well as trying to achieve a result that will be more perfect than what I am able to accomplish on my own.
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Yet if I search my own memories of childhood, or if I ask my own kids what they love and remember most, it is that very same messy process and not-so-perfect ending that bring the most smiles and laughter. Perhaps, if I truly want a beautiful party or an inviting home, the only way to really get that is for my family to journey through the process together.
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Later, as I watch my girls with their finger paints, I can’t help but wonder if these ideas in my head about process and journey are perhaps true for more than just the activities in my life.
Perhaps they are true for life itself.
When faced with the ugliness that can be found in this life, in this world, I often echo John’s words: E’en so, Lord Jesus, quickly come.
I wonder why there has been so much delay between our salvation and our redemption.
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I sit at the piano and play through a bit of Bach.
As I play, the music reminds me that time is good. That delay can bring out beauty. That tension makes the release infinitely more beautiful than could be had otherwise.
Music challenges the belief that the longer something takes, the worse it will be…Music, in a very concentrated way, tells us that something can take time AND be good. Music takes time to be what it is, and as such can be glorious. It can remind us that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Jeremy Begbie in Resounding Truth
I need this reminder.
I want to look for the purpose in this time we have here. I want to see the beauty in the way God created our world to need time in order to become as He intends.
I want to enjoy God’s glorious ending (beginning?) when God will make his dwelling among us, when there will be no more tears, when we will forever enjoy the beauty of the new heaven and new earth.
Listen and revel in the way the music takes us through the delay, the messiness, and the tension of time on into a glorious ending.
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The Goodness of Time

I sit with my sweet sister, my brother’s wife, this 26-year-old mommy of a 16-month old, watching her life ebb away. She has fought hard for her husband and son, fought hard against this cancer that is quickly overtaking her lungs, her bones, her eyes, her brain. 


We now want her to just rest.


Cancer.


Such a hideous piece of this broken world. This broken world that can yet be so beautiful.

Why does God allow things to go on the way that they are? If He knew ahead of time the brokenness, the fallenness, the sin of this world, why begin? If He knew He would have to send the flood, send His Son, why create at all?

I have been wondering for a long time.

I don’t have any answers, just a few “perhaps’”.

Perhaps, just perhaps, it was the only way.

If God created with a purpose, a future purpose as well as a present purpose, perhaps this brokenness is the only way to reach that future goal.

My mind protests.

If He is God, can’t He create a world that has already reached that goal? Can’t He do anything?

I think it through.

Yes, He can do anything. Anything, that is, which is not nonsense, not just silly.

Perhaps, just perhaps, creating a world that has instantly reached God’s future purpose is as silly, as nonsensical, as creating a round square, a four-sided triangle, a circle with corners.

Perhaps the journey is essential to the goal.

I wonder and ponder for several days as I go about my daily work.

Then I receive a gift from my family: a bit of time alone.


That is when I read this:


Music challenges the belief that the longer something takes, the worse it will be…Music, in a very concentrated way, tells us that something can take time AND be good. Music takes time to be what it is, and as such can be glorious. It can remind us that it is not a failing of the created world that it reaches its fulfillment only through time. This is part of the way God made things. The created world takes time to be what it is. ~ Begbie, Resounding Truth

Ah.

Why DO we persist in thinking that God’s delay in coming and making all things perfect is a bad thing, that somehow He is impatiently waiting for something to happen so that He can be allowed to return?
IF (this is, don’t forget, just an “if”) all of this brokenness, all of this fallen-ness is essential to bringing about the new earth in which:

the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God…It (Jerusalem) shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. ~ Revelation 21.3,11



THEN
Let us:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! … Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ~ Philippians 4.4-6

I don’t mean that we shouldn’t long for Christ’s return, wait anxiously for all to be set right again. The Bible is clear that we should yearn for the day when we shall see God.

And God’s delay, these thousands of years between the beginning and the end, is a gift, not a curse.

I don’t pretend to understand how. So much of this world seems so bad to me. We probably won’t understand until the end.

We must, however, give thanks and know that time is a gift and is part of the way God made things. This middle of the story is what moves us from the beginning to the beautiful, glorious end.


The created world takes time to be what it is.


Thank You, Lord God, for doing whatever it takes to carry all of creation into its glorious end…which is, after all, only the beginning.

credit/source/copyright for the last two pictures: New Jerusalem and New Earth