"A commitment to kindness does not mean surrendering your convictions."
"Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought."
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things, the things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."
The Apostle Paul
Letter to the Philippians
Last month, I wrote about the challenges of managing time as the close of summer and beginning of fall reminds us that time is indeed fleeting. And as we usher in September, the challenges remain. I would like for us to consider another aspect of the passing of time that may encourage us to appreciate the Lord’s redemptive use of time and its passing.
As fallen creatures, we are unable to perceive time in anything but an extremely limited way. We see time in a linear, uni-directional way that does not reflect our eternal, redemptive God. Writers have expressed the struggle to more fully understand time over the past many centuries.
I'm a time traveler.... People don't understand time. It's not the way you think it is. It's complicated, very complicated. People assume that time is a straight progression of cause to effect, but actually from a nonlinear, nonobjective viewpoint, it's more like a big ball of wobbly wobbly timey wimpy stuff.
When I consider the history of the Hebrew people as it is recorded in the Old Testament, I hear a drumbeat: Remember, remember, remember…. The Hebrew people were not very good at remembering the LORD’s holiness, faithfulness, and personal watchfulness over them. Over and over, they fell away from the LORD GOD as time passed. And then over and over, circumstances and events would remind them of their need for the LORD, and they would repent and return to following Him.
We are not very good at remembering, either. We are often tempted to follow the way of the world, to do life ourselves, and reserve faith for emergencies and holidays. It seems to me that remembering might be easier if we considered time more from the expanded perspective of Dr. Who. The Lord has promised to complete the work He has begun in us. He is in the process of sanctifying us, of inviting us to partake in His nature and to become fit for heaven. This means that we need to be willing to change. And the kind of change that the Lord wants for us is eternal; it requires us to embrace change over time.
It is not easy for me to change: I don’t like it! New events and adventures are uncomfortable, and I am always relieved when I can get my life “back to normal.” But that is short-sighted. If I look beyond discomfort to the redemptive purposes that the Lord puts those new events and adventures, I can allow Him to use them to change me. And as this change occurs, I can look back in time and view those uncomfortable times with greater appreciation and gratitude. It changes my view of history, which in turn changes the way I view the future. I can learn to be changed in deep ways that remain as time passes.
And so here we are, at the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It is time to put swimsuits away and get out school supplies and sweaters. The party is over: back to work! But we serve the great I AM, the eternal Being, the Lord who sovereignly guides past, present, and future toward His redemptive ends. So rather than putting summer away, I would like to suggest that we take those parts of summer that changed us: that helped us to see the Lord more clearly or experience His faithfulness more deeply and carry them with us into the fall with an eagerness to continue to see the Lord do His redemptive work in us. And in that way, we are living in three-dimensional time: we apply the confidence of the Lord’s work from the past to the choices of the moment as we look toward greater maturity in Christ in the future.