Asking God for the gift of time to help us celebrate the new year
Among Native Americans, time was measured by the sun. Sunrise, sun overhead and sunset were the measures. A popular writer says that a man from a local tribe talked about ghosts, but when asked about the reality of ghosts, the man said that ghosts were more real than time.
I recently asked a 13-year-old what would happen if we did not havewatches and clocks. She wisely observed that we would not be so busy ifwe did not have clocks. A generation ago, when I had appointments everyhour from 7 a.m. until 6 to 8 p.m., I refused to wear my watch onSaturdays or make an appointment for anything on that day. I survived agrinding week because I anticipated time and opportunities to follow mywhims.
At least twice in my career, I attended workshops on time management.Those workshops made me more efficient, but less humane. Life was sodriven by the clock that my relationship with people deteriorated.There was no time for small talk or any conversation that wasn’trelated to my agenda.
Boethius, a medieval philosopher and theologian, taught that God livedoutside of time as we know it. He knew mankind thinks about time as alinear sequence, but God does not perceive a sequence. God sees alltimes at once. The promise to Abraham and the multitude of hisdescendents exiting from Egypt were perceived at the same instant byGod. That perspective helps keep trials, suffering, waiting and painmore tolerable.
How to make the most of time is the issue for us. How to live eachmoment of our lives with purpose and direction must concern us all aswe live in a fast-paced society that sweeps us along almost out ofcontrol. Wise people whose lives testify to holy living keep telling methat people have to set a time for prayer and meditation. Many of thosepeople get up an hour before they must start preparing for their day.That hour is dedicated to God: some pray the whole time, others followa Bible reading schedule and pray part of the time, and others read andmeditate. Many runners tell how their prayer lives have been enrichedas they have spent the time praying for the people in their lives. Aclose friend writes a prayer journal every day: the journal is onlyabout praise and adoration of God.
The coming of a new year is a great time to set out on a pattern ofBible reading that will help you focus daily on God’s message. I amcoming off a year when I have read the Bible in chronological order.Such a pattern will help you see more clearly the context of the booksof prophecy and wisdom. This past year, for the first time in my life,I thought I understood the integrity and messages of Jeremiah andEzekiel.
A pattern that has benefited me immensely is a reading of thefour gospels. Reading three chapters a day will take you throughMatthew, Mark, Luke and John in one month. In a year you follow thelife and teachings of Jesus 12 times. You will be amazed at the detailsyou will see that you have overlooked before. A year with Jesus willmake it one of the best years of your life.
Although I love to sing, I have a voice that is most appreciated whenit is not heard. In the shower and in the car when I am driving to workor on errands, I love singing praise and devotion to God. I often singalong with recordings so that I learn new songs, but I also love thosesongs of my childhood and youth. An effectively worded song can help mefeel the awe that should always mark my thoughts about God.
I still do not understand time, but I am working to relish and useevery minute to grow closer to God. I am working to have a strongerconnection with Joyce, my children, my grandchildren, my friends of alifetime, and people that I am meeting. I am still tryingto understand what it would feel like to be beyond time, to see eventsas God sees them. I want to escape the ruthlessness of time so that Ican find time to connect meaningfully with people that cross my path.
Although life creates many occasions to mourn, my goal is to rejoicemore. I want to learn how to celebrate the common events of life. Iwant to see God’s hand working in circumstances of my life. I am askingGod to open my eyes to the beauty of his working all around me. I wantthe gift of time to help me be holy and fully devoted.