I closed the book with a sigh.
Ten minutes? Seriously? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
With that tantrum, I concluded my time in the Word. I’m the group leader, and I got angry at the author of our study to have the audacity to suggest that we taken ten minutes–ten measly minutes–to stop, breathe, and sit in the presence of God.
Pushing aside the nagging sensation that I was being a bit culture-driven, succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, too task-oriented, and not exactly mindful, I shoved the study, my Bible, and my journal across the the table and stood up.
I’ll save those ten minutes in waiting for tomorrow. I don’t really have the time or patience to deal with waiting on God at the moment.
And with that cavalier dismissal, I thought something incredibly arrogant: “I have better things to do with those ten minutes than just to sit and wait on God.”
Something’s wrong with this picture. If I can’t allow myself ten minutes just to “be” with God, with no agenda, no schedule, no structure, I need to evaluate my heart.
“In liturgical time, we make space–lots of space–for waiting. Time is a gift from God, a means of worship.” (Tish Harrison Warren, Liturgy of the Ordinary, 2016)
It appears to me that my issue is one of pride and idolatry. Every time I wait, I have to face the reality that time does not revolve around me. If time revolved around me, it would submit to my dictatorship, schedules, and plans. Time itself is a reminder that I am not God, and sometimes it makes me ridiculously angry, like when my Bible study urged me to sit with God for ten minutes.
Life, time, is about waiting. It is about surrender. It is about Sabbath; it is about rest. Life revolves around Christ, who, as demonstrated by His centrality in the church calendar is the “fulcrum of time” (Warren, 2016).
Life in our culture has become quite the opposite of rest. It is about production, over-production, and super-over-production. It is about convenience, speed, efficiency, and the more you produce, the better you are as an individual. Our culture kneels and offers sacrifices at the altars of driving ourselves to exhaustion, fighting the clock, and outsmarting time. We do all of this so that we can do more and more and more until we feel like supermen and superwomen, not needing anyone, especially not needing God. In doing so, we can lull ourselves into denial of our own mortality. The church is not immune to this disease of time-sickness. We too are slaves to the clock, fighting to be free of its restrictions, but knowing that it is constantly shackling us, holding us back from our “full production potential.”
What if we made “friends” with time? What if, in orienting ourselves around “sacred time,” we embraced a place of rest and surrender?
Our small group has started a new study–that same study that I shoved across my kitchen table in frustration in the beginning of this story. Carolyn Moore wrote a powerful installment of a three-part series on the Trinity, Encounter the Father, and my understanding of God as Parent is being rocked in powerful and absolutely necessary ways. The daily exercises are a bit different than previous studies that we have done. They offer more wiggle-room, more space to interact with scripture, to let God speak directly to our heart. I love-hate that Moore makes space for God to speak through the Word by encouraging us to simply sit with the scripture passages.
As my friends and I meet together to discuss the study, I sense that many of us are struggling with the less structured approach that she offers. I also find myself incredibly frustrated with Moore as she urges us to sit for ten minutes simply waiting and listening for God to speak. This place of waiting goes against all of my driven, productivity-fueled Bible study. Even studying the Bible has become a check list item, a box to be ticked off, a task to be completed.
So as I come to the last few sentences of the daily study, thinking that I am about to “check” off my “time with God,” I come face-to-face with the statement: “Take ten minutes just to sit in the presence of God and listen for His voice.”
Ten minutes? So much can be accomplished in the span of ten minutes!! I thought I was almost finished! Maybe I will just skip that part.
And I manage to dodge the stillness for 24 hours….until the Spirit nudges me a bit more urgently the next day. Maybe these ten minutes are the most important part of this study? Maybe this time of waiting is the re-orientation that I need in order to get over my “God-complex” and surrender again to the Lord of time, the only one who is outside of time.
I sit on my bed, legs criss-cross applesauce (sorry, preschool mom brain), and I yell at our Echo: “ALEXA! Set a timer for 10 minutes!” There. Now someone will hold me accountable.
And at that moment, I step into Chairos time, the space of transcendence, the liminal space of waiting, where I am not steering the ship. I look to see Jesus and why he slept in the boat in the midst of the storm. When we lean into God in state of restful anticipation, not fighting time, but surrendering ourselves to the Maker of time, we start to make friends with the clock.
In those ten quiet minutes that seem to miraculously turn into a decade, the Shepherd leads me to the 23rd Psalm, and we walk together. I find myself fully satisfied in His presence, and I hold the words of the Psalm in the palm of my hand, gingerly flipping them over, amazed that they really do seem to be breathing the sacred breath of the Almighty God. A melody emerges, and the words arrange themselves as a song that rises in my chest. I am not in control of the authorship of this hymn, but the God who transcends time is crafting within me a work of Divine art. In those ten minutes, my first musical composition is birthed: In those very ten minutes I was so reluctant to sacrifice.
Alexa sounds the ten minute alarm, and I jolt out of my holy liminal space where I met the good Shepherd.
We begin to understand the redemption of time when we start to see that we are not waiting for the gift, but the waiting is the actual gift. Each moment is pregnant with sacred worth if we will allow ourselves to truly enter into a spirit of rest and waiting.
We cannot outsmart time by striving and over-producing. The only way to outsmart time is the surrender our time to the One who dwells outside of time: The One who created time, who for our sakes stepped into and submitted to time, who placed us in this moment. He placed within us the longing for a future hope, feeling the nagging need of the brokenness of the present. When we wait, we reconnect with the purpose of our waiting, with the hope of our waiting, and with the resurrection power of our Lord: “Thy Kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.”
God is redeeming all things, and our lives–even our days–are part of that redemption. (2016)
Life is birthed as we surrender our time. Redemption springs forth from our waiting and stillness. Time is not the enemy, and it is high time that we get off of the thrones of our lives. So take the ten minutes. Sit. Listen. Surrender. Our time is ripe with resurrection power. Wait for it.
The vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; it will not delay. Habakkuk 2:3