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Of Time

I have come to believe that God is a God of time.

I think that for a long time I kept wanting things—physical objects—to be sacred. But God doesn’t appear to be about that so much as He seems to be more concerned with time and rhythm, at least as far as I can tell. Many people tell me that God is outside of time, as if it’s an annoyance to Him and that He doesn’t need it; but that doesn’t quite seem to be the be-all-end-all statement for me. There’s got to be something deeper—more mysterious. Maybe God envelopes time, or maybe He is in it but in a different dimension than I am able to comprehend.

This all started with me while thinking about the concept of Sabbath, and if I’m going to study or look deeply into a subject, then I need to go to the first mention recorded of the topic. In this instance, we go to creation.

God takes seven days to create. It’s fascinating that He doesn’t create the objects with which we measure days until the fourth day, but that’s another topic for another day. What really fascinates me is this: What is the first thing in all of creation that God makes holy? Time. God makes the seventh day, a space in time, holy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel suggests that God didn’t cease creating after six days, but that He actually created rest on the seventh day. Still, God makes moments in time holy. There is an intrinsic rhythm to all of creation that He sets apart. We see many more cases of God making events in time holy as opposed to making individual objects holy.

A day of rest is essential to living a full life. God, in His being, has set apart time for us to become whole. I have so far to go in learning about the Sabbath, but this time concept has taken a different direction for me, which has shed some light on how I should live my life.

Have you ever gone back to an old house you used to live in to remember the times spent in that place? And did you find it slightly fulfilling, but not completely? The time you spent living in that house was special, maybe even sacred, but the actual walls, floors and ceilings were not. Or maybe you went back to the place where you proposed to your wife. The actual event, the time, was what was important. The place is significant, but mostly for the fact that it helps you remember time.

Maybe you are like me in this way: I keep things to remember time. When I was in the Highlands in Scotland, I grabbed a few stones to take home with me. When I was at the Coliseum in Rome, I picked a small rock out of a wall to remember my time there. But that’s just it; the time is what was important. God taught me things in both of those places, and I wanted to remember it in its most full. God was having the Israelites do this all of the time. They would build piles of stones to remember events, or they would create monuments for the same reason. Even all of the festivals that the Israelites celebrate are to remember a unique event in time. The Festival of Booths, for instance, is to remember the time spent wandering in the desert after their exile from Egypt. The booths they make for the festival aren’t the point—it’s remembering the time that’s important. The Eucharist is another example. Are the elements we take sacred in and of themselves? Or is it the event that we remember the thing that is holy?

When I look back to my most sacred, holy moments in life, they have involved people and God communicating something to me in a deep, profound way.

I first began to lead worship when I was in high school. It was amazing and awful. I was really nervous, a poor-to-quite-poor musician and scared. God shaped me in incredible ways in those humble days. Before I would go out to lead, my friend Tony and I would go to this back stairwell in the building and beg God to lead me so that I could be a lead worshipper for our youth group. I will be the first to tell you that it was in no way flashy, but it was very honest and authentic, and I do believe that God met with us in those specific moments. Those moments in time were holy. It was as if we were bringing heaven to earth in some small way in those meetings.

I used to meet with this group of guys to talk about God, again back in high school. We were not an impressive group of guys to say the least, but we knew that if we asked God to unveil Himself in those moments that He’d do it, because it is in His nature to give revelation. We would sit for hours and sing and pray and take the Eucharist together. We were just a bunch of 16- and 17-year-olds stumbling our way through discovering what it really meant to follow Jesus. Those moments were holy. Set apart. It wasn’t the room we were in or the things we had, but rather it was the time spent together that was significant. God is a God of time. God takes moments to shift us and mold us into the most healthy beings we can become.

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I love to travel. In my travels, I ask God every day to guide my steps and guard my heart. I ask Him all the time, and sometimes I wonder if He hears me and goes, Yes, yes. I know. Let’s talk about something else, like futbol. No one ever talks to me about futbol. I don’t really think He says that, but I sort of do. My point is that I want every step I take to be a step towards a significant event in His Kingdom, be it a conversation or some random interaction. I want my time to be used for me becoming less and Him becoming great.

My relationships are significant; my possessions are not. How I spend my time matters; how much stuff I acquire does not. God, a God of time, wants me to utilize every second I have to know Him and to give Him glory. He wants my conversations to further His Kingdom. He wants my life to speak of His greatness. Every day is significant. Every hour is full of purpose. Sometimes I wonder if He’s just waiting for me to constantly ask, What’s going to happen today that is going to change me forever? How can I use this moment to know you and to shine your light to the world? How can I be hope here and now?

This is the God I serve. I serve a God who is obsessed with people. I serve a God of time who wants you and wants me to take the low place to make Him great. It’s when I come to the realization that it’s His time, not mine. I’m just borrowing it—that’s when I start taking my moments seriously and living in the fullness of Him.

And maybe today, after you read this, you’ll go into each conversation and each interaction with the knowledge that God is a God of time and that the time you spend may be one of the most sacred times of your entire life here on Earth. Maybe you’ll end up in some place you never expected, like a bench in the middle of a field or maybe on a metro or in a café in Paris, and in that place you’ll find yourself in the middle of a holy moment; and maybe that moment that will be a part of shaping the rest of eternity.

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