Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Beauty of Time

Time is such an amazing commodity when invested well!

If it's one thing on which Reformed Christians focus well, it's sin. Andrew Quigley preached an amazing sermon series at a Horn Creek conference on the stunningly underrepresented topic of sin, and it go me thinking. Humans have wandered the desert landscape of a sin-saturated earth for thousands of years, blazing away a small fraction of their lives in either cleaning up from, or digging deeper into, the nature of Adam & Eve's attempt at a shortcut. Jesus didn't take it from Satan in the desert, but they wanted wisdom and power faster than God promised. And boy, did they pass on their shortcutting habits!

There's a passage in C.S. Lewis' That Hideous Strength that indicates Merlin's bi-polar society - he can go from blubbering like a child to sitting calmly without any embarrassment whatsoever. Lewis knew that a split society is marginally effective. What he would have deplored is our current desperation to be continually fractured, in a frantic effort to 'make much of time'.

Making yourself be still can be a hard thing - yoga classes call it being 'centred'. But without stillness, the gift of time can be turned into a Mansfield Park array of "a quick succession of busy nothings". And that means you spend your life chasing your tail, with others to clear away the damage as you lumber through fences and signposts and china shops, like a blind bull. As Ezra and Nehemiah found out, clearing away the rubbish of a city's broken wall takes an enormous amount of focused energy - and time. Let alone building a new wall.

Austen and Lewis knew that a life spent in swift toil in service of the Enemy was nothing more than time lost. They outline the heartbreaking lack of preparation of children by parents, focus spent on fripperies, people eating and drinking and making merry til death. And then the contrast, of those who have learned the wisdom of avoidance of 'bad company', who value true friendship in strange packages (such as Miss Bates!), and wise financial investments in the eternal. This thrift pays dividends, such as a tree made into a wardrobe that opens into a magic world.

We all know that to invest in certain things, such as exercise and Eating Right, pays dividends. You can force yourself out the door to puff around the block in the comforting reflection that it's good for your heart and burns calories. Burning brain calories is a bit harder, and less visible - and much more satisfying. Investment in the invisible often pays well.

Good time spent means preparation - I can now pack for a week-long trip in an hour. Everything's been put away in its place, or in a bag. I can type out a review of a book in half a day instead of five days (like in my freshman year of college) because I've done it 200 times before. I can have a conversation about the gospel and be convincing, because I've fallen on my face trying to present it 100 times before. I can plot the course of a film because I've seen 1,000 of them. (That's not really something to be proud of!) I can walk into a house and figure out how to approach the difficult dog inside of 10 minutes because I've petsit at 30 different places. But each time, I have to allow time to figure out what will be puzzling, and make mistakes.

Thank God, in heaven we will have all the time in the world, and none of it will be wasted on the world. :)

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