Sunday, November 29, 2009

Time after time

If you recognize the title of this post as a song title from the '80s, you're showing your age.

Today's sermon at church dealt in part with God answering our prayers; and the implication was that he answers them in his time.

Now to say that God answers in his time is not like when your Mama used to say, "Just a minute, I'll be there in a minute..." In fact, God's "time" isn't really time as we understand it at all. How can a God who is omnipresent, everywhere at once, be confined to one particular second in time? You can't even say he is time -- it's beyond that. He defies all human concept of time.

So then to suggest that God answers prayers in his time is really to suggest that it is extremely difficult for us to perceive our prayers being answered. Think about it. You pray and pray and pray about a particular issue and just like the gradual metamorphosis that changes a caterpillar to a butterfly, suddenly something is different; but you're not sure when it began and you're not sure how it came about.

It just is.

Do you remember as a child watching time-lapsed photography for the first time? I do. I was astounded that you could "capture" and represent on film something happening that was actually too slow or gradual for the eye to perceive.

Slow is probably not a good word to use when talking about the manner in which our prayers are answered. The pastor stated today that our prayers never dissipate into the atmosphere; poof -- they're gone. No, the moment we breath them, something begins; a process, if you will. I don't think we know what that something is, but God does.

I don't think it's accurate to refer to the process as "gradual" either. To God, who is neither bound by increments of time nore able to be measured by anything finite, the word gradual has very little meaning.

I want to suggest that really and truly, there are two speeds for God, two increments of time: Nothing and something. Nothing is before God acts; something is "immediately" after.

These kinds of thoughts bend my brain ever so slightly; and I like it. Perhaps on some level, it is comforting to serve a God who does not serve the almighty time piece. For someone who has no beginning and no end, "sooner" and "later" are nearly meaningless.

When Mother used to say "just a minute," you really had no idea if she would ever get around to you at all. But time after time, we can trust God to move from "nothing" to "something." In the mean time, we have to learn to live within the frustrating confines of man-made time, waiting to perceive that "something" that God is about.

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