All the time in the world

 

I’ve just been reading (actually, listening to, but it’s the same thing) a brilliant book by Shauna Niequist called Present Over Perfect. (Incidentally, did you know that you can borrow audiobooks from the library here in Australia using the Libby app? It’s brilliant.)

In this book Shauna talks about her journey from frantic to simple. From busy to quiet. This is totally my groove, in fact, she starts her book in the same way I started My Year of Saying NO, by explaining how she wanted to tell us just how busy she was so that we wouldn’t think she was just weak, and how she decided not to because everyone’s busy is different but it’s still busy.

As I’ve been listening, I’ve been realising that I will always need to be reminded to slow down, to say ‘no’, to listen to my body, to rest. My addiction to busy-ness is real and it’s something I need to keep tabs on.

But there was one line, when Shauna was talking about prayer, that really jumped out at me. Here it is:

God has all the time in the world.

teapot and cup

Sometimes I can think of God as a very busy man up in heaven, keeping tabs on everything. I marvel at his ability to listen to so many prayers at once, and I limit my prayers so as not to take up too much of his time.

This is not a well thought-out position, it’s more a gut feeling. When I think it through I know that it’s not the case.

God made time. He exists outside of time. If he wants more time, he can just make some more.

I remember watching a program with Brian Cox where he was explaining space-time. He had a nice animation of a sausage-shaped thing all made with lasers and he told us that it was a representation of time, and for some reason he poked sticks through it at angles. I can’t remember why now. But that image of time stuck with me. If you put us in the sausage, walking along our timelines linearly, God is outside, like Brian Cox, able to interact with any moment in time.

This means that we can talk with God whenever we like, and however often we want to, and for as long as we desire. We are not ‘talking up his time’ we are not ‘getting in the way’. When God wants to spend time with us he doesn’t have to clear his desk or cancel appointments. He’s there for us, whenever we need him.

That’s why the Bible can say things like, ‘pray continually’ or ‘give thanks in all circumstances’. It’s not that God has a bunch of secretary angels filtering out the prayers so that only the important ones get to him. He has time to listen to every one of us.

He has all the time in the world, and more besides.

Then my brain flips the other way and says, ‘Well, if he has so much time, then his time is not precious, his spending time with me is not a sacrifice for him, and I’m not special’. (My brain is amazing at coming up with stupid ideas, let me tell you.)

The thing is, God did have to sacrifice so that I could have this precious gift of time with him. He didn’t have to sacrifice appointments with others, he didn’t sacrifice money-making time, or task-performing time.

What did God sacrifice?

Everything.

His life.

The whole lot.

Cross

That’s what we celebrate this Easter and every Easter. The sacrifice that God made so that we could be friends with him. More than friends, children.

His children.

His brothers and sisters.

So that’s my message today. It may be a reminder. For you it may be news for the first time.

God has all the time in the world, and he has given everything so that he can spend that time with you.

May you have a special Holy Week, and may it include lots of time spent with God.

Are you missing some of my blog posts? They come out every Monday. Sign up to follow the A Quiet Life blog on WordPress, or you can sign up to my newsletter on www.ruthamos.com.au  and you will receive every post straight to your email inbox. You will also find my podcast, my book ‘My Year of Saying No’, and any short stories or other books will be up there as they come along.

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Good Friday

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My song is love unknown
My Saviour’s love for me
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be
Yet who am I that for my sake
My God should take frail flesh and die?

He came from heaven’s throne
Salvation to bestow
But they refused and none
The longed-for Christ would know
This is my Friend, my Friend indeed
That at my need His life would spend

Sometimes they crowd His way
And His sweet praises sing
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their king
Then “Crucify!” is all their breath
And for His death they thirst and cry

Why? What has my Lord done
To cause this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run
And gave the blind their sight
Such injuries! Yet these are why
The Lord most high so cruelly dies

Here might I stay and sing
Of Him my soul adores
Never was love, dear King
Never was grief like yours
This is my Friend, in whose sweet praise
I all my days could gladly spend

Samuel Crossman 1664

Brownie points

On Thursday nights there is a prayer meeting at church that I want to want to go to. There is no typo there. I find it hard to get there – it’s the end of the day, I’ve usually used up all my emotional energy, I don’t want to leave my warm and comfortable house and have to talk to anyone anymore. This is no reflection on the people who are there – they are some really close friends of mine, or on the quality of the meeting – it’s an awesome time (in the true sense of the word). I just often find it hard to lever myself out of the house and go.

I went last night though. I put on my jacket and walked down to the chapel in the dark. Past the supermarket with the final remnants of Easter shoppers stocking up for the public holiday, past the small group of people waiting in the council carpark for the Vinnie’s van to come and give them free bread, and down to the chapel with it’s beautiful windows all lit up from the inside.

The door was locked.

Well, that was ok, the leaders usually walk in through the big church and up into the chapel, I’ll keep walking around the courtyard and to the other door and…

That door’s locked too.

At that point I smiled, and turned for home, grateful for the walk and grateful for the night off.

When I got home I told the boys that it was cancelled and said, ‘I get all the brownie points for going without having had to stay’. Then we all laughed. It doesn’t work that way. It just doesn’t.

Sometimes we think that all our good works are like a bridge to heaven. But if they are like a bridge across a chasm, they are like a rope bridge that is slightly too short. No matter what we do, we will not be good enough to reach the other side. And a rope bridge that is only attached to one side of a chasm is more like a ladder down into a pit.

That’s the good news. That is the news I celebrate each Good Friday. My works are not good enough and God did something about it. Something that cost him everything, that caused him intense pain such as I will never experience, and something that is enough.

Because of Jesus’ death on the cross I have a way to cross that chasm. I can talk to God now. I can know his love for me.

I no longer have to ‘scrabble, scrape and scrooge’ my way through. I don’t have to be in control. I don’t have to beat myself up for every little error I make. I don’t.

It’s not a licence to be evil, not at all. But now, when I do good, when I try to be good, I am coming from a position of gratefulness and wanting to return to God just a smidgeon of what he has wonderfully done for me.

Sometimes I forget and I start to try to work my way into God’s good books. But folks, that is really not how it works. The bible talks about our names being written in the book of life and that’s the only good book that matters. The only thing I had to do to get there was repent and believe.

I don’t know where you stand today. But if you’re not in that book of life, I want to encourage you that it’s wonderful to know that you’re safe. And if you know your name is written in the book, let’s rejoice in what our wonderful Saviour has done for us and forget about boasting in our good works.

No brownie points needed here.