Time. If we’re going to talk about growing up in our faith, we’re going to have to address the issue of time. We’re going to have to sort and sift through our life and make room because the number of hours in the day is not going to change, we are going to have to change. In order to grow up and mature, we must attend to the critical needs of our heart and soul and soil. This is the private and hidden life of the saint – this is finding a quiet spot and shutting the door. It’s not at all glamorous, and in this era where everything shines and blasts from the public stage – this is turning and heading the other way – into the quiet, into solitude.
So let me share a few thoughts that I have come across in recent days.
When we read the lives of the saints, we are struck by a certain large leisure which went hand in hand with remarkable effectiveness. They were never hurried; they did comparatively few things, and these not necessarily striking or important; and they troubled very little about their influence. Yet they always seemed to hit the mark; their simplest actions had a distinction, an exquisiteness that suggest the artist. The reason is not so far to seek. Their sainthood lay in their habit of referring the smallest actions to God. They lived in God; they acted from a pure motive of love towards God. They were free from self-regard as from slavery to the good opinion of others. God saw and God rewarded; what else they did they need? They possessed God and possessed themselves in God. Hence the inalienable dignity of the meek, quiet figures that seem to produce such marvelous effect with such humble materials. Creative Prayer as quoted in Divine Hours
And a series of thoughts from our dear Oswald Chambers.
Prayer does not fit us for greater works; prayer is the greater work.
The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God…..It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of life…..The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men…..You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line; you will remain true to Him whatever happens.
One can reach heaven from any place on earth. Jan Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Reading recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12, The Message
Okay, let’s jump in here and think about this a bit. Time. We need to think about it as adults, we didn’t think about it as children – babies and toddlers aren’t aware of the passing of time, they live and move and breathe in a sensory world – from hunger and eating to watching and playing and then drifting to sleep. We don’t see babies with a watch on their arm or an alarm set on their phone. Children and adolescents start to feel the pull of time – they count birthdays and important milestones – graduations and applications and licenses and such. By the time we’re functioning adults, time has us – we feel it’s pull, so much to do, so little time to do it, so many people depending on us for something or expecting us to be someplace.
Midlife has been such an interesting passage for me – I definitively felt the “crest of the hill” and the “descent”. At first it scared me, now it’s shaping my days and forcing me to address this life I am living. Time in midlife has different dimensions – I see babies being born and it feels like SO LONG AGO. I watch my parents aging, and it feels a bit too close for comfort. Ah yes, time.
I think the only way we can address maturity and growth is through Scripture – John 15 is very clear about this. This is how my Father shows who he is – when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples…..You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil.
We are fruit bearers, that is our job – so deepening and ripening needs to be at the forefront of our minds – we need to care about it and attend to the maturing process.
Much to think about here, but so let me leave you this week with a few thoughts and challenges.
1. Ripe fruit depends quite a bit on the dirt, the quality of the soil. Only you can know your terrain – so finding time to be with Him gives you access to that knowing. God already knows you completely, when you come to Him, you come to your dirt and He teaches you who you are.
2. It’s not easy to daily find time with God, especially if it is not part of your daily routine. Create a place and time and then commit to going there at least 5 of 7 days a week from now until the start of Advent which is November 29 – six weeks is plenty of time to develop a rhythm. A bit of ritual and routine will help – a candle to light, a hot cup of joe, a spicy tea. Most people will tell you that mornings are best – I think that’s because once a day starts, it’s hard to pull back. It doesn’t matter – find a time and stick to it.
3. There is only spaciousness here. This is invitation and blessing and gift. This is not rules and regulations, this is relationship. Choose some metaphors and live within them. I remember when the boys and I were studying the Middle Ages one year, at some point during that time, I saw a castle in the countryside. It was raining and cold and most of the people were miserable. I climbed a winding stairwell and entered a room with a roaring fire and two chairs close to the warmth. I was immediately ushered into the presence of the King because I WAS HIS DAUGHTER. I found such comfort there – it is an image that I always return to when I’m cold and wet and miserable.
Time is rather elusive, but we have all the time we need, we have all the time there is. Our goal is to bear fruit ripened on the Vine, and that process takes time – so for what it is worth, let’s find the time this autumn.