As I get older I am astonished at the way in which I have learned to gather up fragments of TIME. I have also observed how we crowd things out and become “too busy” for worship and service. Yesterday was the Protestant Reformer, John Calvin’s birthday (10.7.1506). He makes a telling statement: “Knowing yourself begins with knowing God.”
In a word, the Psalmist says “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth” and goes on to say “teach us to number our days”. We must be able to respond freely and quickly to fresh needs and interests to new challenges and calls. But also remember that an unexamined and wholly unplanned life can leave a great deal undone.
So where does A RULE OF LIFE (TIME) begin? St. Paul reminded the Galatian Christians that “in the fullness of time God sent his only son”. The Roman empire brought unparalleled peace and stability. The perfect time? If Jesus came today, think of the impact. He could have relayed his message around the world in seconds. Clearly God’s timetable and ours may not be at the same time, but his RULE OF LIFE asks us if we are ready to put his timing first.
Let’s dig a little deeper. How many of us find ourselves growing increasingly impatient at the way things are going? For various reasons, we want to explode! At the same time we are stressed out. We rush from one thing to the next, one eye on the clock, begrudging every wasted moment, unable to practice the presence of God. We need to learn that every moment is God’s gift. I think the call is to make the most of each encounter. As my late mother taught me “Patience is a virtue!” And I am still working on it! The Women’s group at Mossop reminded me of this home truth last week.
It follows that many of us end up so pre-occupied with the past or the future that we overlook the blessings of the present. What we need to learn is to enjoy each moment, recognising all it has to offer. The Psalmist insists that we never forget that “this is the day the Lord has made”. (118:24). Do not let it pass you by! I think there is a rhythm in life that needs to be observed. In re-creation we learn the importance of Sabbath living. Taking time out for God brings new focus. We learn to discriminate and frame A RULE OF LIFE that animates a Christian spirit.
Our experience of TIME is always changing and life is constantly moving on, reminding us all too starkly of our mortality. Think about the passing of TIME: the passing of the seasons, the birth and growth of a child, the anticipation of a special event and, of course, our hope in Christ. The secret to understand what mood or action is appropriate for a particular occasion.
There is a TIME for everything. God is the one who holds all TIME in his hands; the one who in all the changes and chances of this life will not change. One of my favourite passages of scripture is Psalm 90. The Psalmist insists that “the Lord has been our dwelling place for all generations”. A RULE OF LIFE is to continually focus on the living God whose eternal nature stands in such contrast to our own transience.
In the context of faith, we sing with Sydney Carter that life is moving on. With just “one more step” we enter into an unfolding journey in which there is always more to be discovered and more joys to be experienced. We come to a decision about the right use of TIME and set out on it. This turns into a A RULE OF LIFE.