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Serving Time

Two weeks. 14 days. 336 hours. 20 160 minutes. 1 209 600 seconds. Okay, not exactly... Point is: My quarantine is over. Week one went by quick as a wink. But goodness, the second week felt like an eternity. Like the year 2020 all over again. Wait, what? What do you mean it's still 2020? Only October?! Oh man... this is the longest year ever!

Passively waiting is what gets to you. Sitting idly and wishing Time away. The days start blurring together as you hang around pining for that last day when you can finally get out and get on with life. Start fresh. Turn the page. Freedom! If you're a normal human being, you've probably wished COVID19 away at some point this year. Join the club!

Quarantine got me thinking about the idea of Time and our relationship to it. Contrary to the old saying: Time does not heal all wounds. If you’re waiting, hoping, longing for a new day when the world will be different, or when you’ll be different, you just end up serving Time. And it’s a life sentence. Death row. Whether you hope Time will save you from an unbearable present or whether you fear you don't have enough Time to savour an otherwise enjoyable here-and-now. Captain Hook, in the classic Peter Pan stories, loathed Time. Recall the Crocodile that bit off his hand with his watch still attached. Tick-tock, tick-tock. The ominous reptilian swam the waters of Neverland, a constant reminder of Hook’s approaching demise. Unless you're like Peter and the Lost Boys who somehow avoided growing up and growing old, inevitably, Time will run out.  

Chronos, Kairos, Father Time - call him what you'd like; waiting on Time is a bad idea. So is wishing for more of it. Ultimately, we all sense a tightening of the hangman's noose. Scripture, though, bids us go beyond. The Apostle Paul encourages the Corinthians to maintain an eternal perspective:

"Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet

inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles

are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes

not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what

is unseen is eternal" (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

We're made for a reality that transcends the temporal. In the words of a Switchfoot song: "This skin and bones is a rental." What we're made for is to meet our Maker. And He pays no respect to Time. "With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like a day" (2 Peter 3:8). Take that, Christopher Nolan!

"This skin and bones is a rental." - Switchfoot, Where I Belong

Time is limited. God is infinite. The lives we live now all have expiry dates. But Life in Jesus has no timeframe. Eternity is hardwired into the Gospel: "For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). Jesus, the Eternal Son, stepped into space and time to redeem us from a meaningless, timebound existence in sin. The Apostle Paul fires off on that point in greeting the Galatians with a Gospel-drenched hello:

"Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ who gave

Himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our

God and Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen" (Gal. 1:3-4).

He juxtaposes the two succinctly in Romans 6:23: "The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eternity: It's a matter of life and death.

Eternity: It's a matter of life and death.

In a famous sermon titled "The Weight of Glory" (later printed in a book of the same name), CS Lewis leveled a scathing accusation at our fixation on temporary pleasures:

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are

half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite

joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a

slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

We are far too easily pleased.”

That's not to say that the Lord hasn't given us temporary things to enjoy, for a time. Paul instructs his young friend Timothy to remind the rich not to be conceited or to trust in the uncertainty of wealth, but to put their hope in God "who richly provides us with everything to enjoy" (1 Tim. 6:17). It's a question of loving the gift more than the Giver.

God is not motivated by deadlines. He's motivated by Love.. And "Love is patient, Love is kind..." The very first adjective for Love Paul chooses in 1 Cor. 13 is the word "patient". Love isn't in a rush. It has no regard for Time's demands. What's more is, God is Love. God is Life. Love is wrapped up into the very fabric of Life. In the garden, Jesus prayed that His followers would shake off the stupor of self-dependence and awake to the intimate knowledge of Life & Love in God: "Now this is eternal life: that they know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent" (John 17:3). "Indeed," writes Paul from prison, "I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord" (Phil. 3:8). Paul finally did lose everything when he was beheaded by the Romans for his faith in Christ. Another man more recently to lose it all for the sake of Jesus was Jim Eliot, who wrote in his journal: "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." Count the temporary things as loss in order to gain Christ. Knowing Him is worth every loss, every tear, every pang of pain, every grievous moment spent in a world that is not as it should be, nor as it will be in the age to come.

"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose." - Jim Eliot

Here's the hope: "By His power God raised the Lord from the dead, and He will raise us also" (1 Cor. 6:14). "And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His spirit who lives in you" (Rom. 8:11). God judged sin on the cross of Christ and put death to death when He emerged from the empty tomb. And we get to join in on that glorious victory, having been made alive through the power of the Holy Spirit. He anointed us and "set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (2 Cor. 1:22). Let Paul drive it home:

"For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes

for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it

patiently" (Rom. 8:24-25).

Wait we must, yes. But ask yourself, as I have during the past few weeks: What are you waiting for?

Walk with the King... He's worth it!

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Brilliantly written... Thank you for those awesome reminders!!

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