What is time? Time is Grace. If in one of its many permutations Grace is a second, third, fiftieth chance then time is another chance. Time is Grace, therefore. Another chance to do God’s will, another try; Grace says, try, I’m on your side, I want you to win. All you have to do is obey. And therein lies the rub.
The obedience isn’t the hard thing. The hard thing is dying to self. I can follow your rules as long as they don’t conflict with anything I want to do. I’m obeying, but when there is a conflict between my perceived interests and yours and I do what you want me to not what I want, I am successfully dying to self, subsuming my wishes to yours. That is the hard thing.
When we say we are obedient to God’s will, do we really mean that? Do we even know what we’re saying? Most people I know who call themselves Christian, myself included, talk about how they obey God’s will, but not many of us have died to self. When what we know to be the will of God conflicts with what our own will desires, what path do we most often choose? This is what sin is. A choosing to follow our own will instead of the Father’s will.
The letter you knew you shouldn’t send. The phone call you shouldn’t have made. That sex you weren’t supposed to have.
I think a lot of the harm we do ourselves stems from not aligning our will with that of the Father, particularly in the areas of our sexual desires and economic stability. In these two areas we walk a grey area, cutting corners, rationalising, cheating, essentially stealing from ourselves. We make up or exaggerate experience to get and keep our jobs. We lie to ourselves and each other about the people we allow into our lives and into our bodies. We give each other license to sin in these areas, speaking in terms of ‘needs’, and ‘reality’ and ‘being grown’. Of what else do we speak when we say things like: everyone has issues, and so&so is broken? The language we use speaks of a lack of rightness that is in no way superficial, but that runs deeper than the physical, deeper even than the emotional, and goes all the way to the spiritual. But back to the subject at hand – dying to self and living in the Father’s will. Had I died to self instead of indulging my own desires, it is highly likely that my life would look very different. What a comfort to know that even when I look back and see missteps and unnecessary detours, God loves me enough that I have still, in spite of myself, ended up living His perfect and pleasing will for my life. In order to see that though, one has to look beyond the superficial, beyond the obvious, and see, really see, the deeper things of God.
Psalm 86:15 – But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
God doesn’t have a dollar figure for the perfection he has for me. My glory, my abundant life, isn’t to be measured in financial worth. What God has for me is happiness, peace of mind, joy, beauty, delight, awe, wonder…when I look at my children, I have all these things. When Thembi says ‘Mama’ in his very own unique way, I touch a bit of heaven. When Siya looks right into my eyes and sees me, and smiles, it’s ecstasy in my heart. The point I’m making here is that even when I haven’t always been obedient, even when I’ve sinned and turned my back on God, He has never turned His back on me. He has loved me enough to still give me happiness beyond measure, even when I keep yearning for more. He satisfies my soul. When I begin to hanker after the things of the flesh He lovingly reminds me that what I have is worth far more than what my sinful nature is craving.
Every day that I wake up is time. Time to draw closer to God, time to enjoy the gifts He has given me, time to become the person He created me to be. Every moment is another chance, every breath is Grace, unmerited favour, another chance to choose to obey, to say yes, God. I mean, how many people have I cut off and been cut off by because there were no more chances? How many times have I dared to say God, you’ve let me down again, it’s over? Yet God against whom I have sinned so grievously continues to give me chance after chance, breath after breath, day after day. He still pours out His Grace upon me, still blesses me abundantly even when I am ungrateful. What kind of love is that?
Psalm 136:26 Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His steadfast love endures forever.