Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Time, Lord

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Jesus, Revelation 3:20 (NIV). The Bible.

“He will knock four times.” Carmen, “Planet of the Dead.” Doctor Who.

“My times are in Your hands….” David, Psalm 31:15 (NIV). The Bible.

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so. Ford Prefect, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

As I have been re-reading my journals in an attempt to find interesting nuggets to mine out, I noticed that one journal that I started in Athens (c. 2005) and still use to write in currently contains a repeated phrase (or variation thereof) at least half a dozen times: the long, dark time of my soul must have taken place in Alaska, because it took a lot longer than three days to resurrect MY heart.

Chew on that for a minute. There’s a LOT there to digest.

As mentioned earlier, this year I am focusing on One Word to drive my thoughts, hopes and dreams. My plan (*snicker*) is to spend at least one week at the end of each month for the next year writing on how that word has been evident in my life during that month. By doing so, I hope to give focus to me intentionally looking for and seeing where God has been moving in my life – especially since for so long, I either ignored Him or tried not to make eye contact.

However, it’s somewhat difficult to look forward without looking back, especially when there are days which seem to stretch into weeks where time either (a) just rushes past at such an alarmingly speedy rate that it seems impossible to get ANYTHING done, or (b) time stands still…paused in some distant memory that you wish you could just purge like the corrupted file that it is.

While it’s easy to do what many believers do and quote & claim Jeremiah 29:11 (“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”), for some of us, it’s a bitter pill to swallow as we look back in hindsight over the path our lives have been on. There are MANY things that I have walked through that, both at the time they were happening as well as after the fact, made me doubt, wonder and question if “God” was involved with any part of my life at all. And if He was involved, exactly why and how could He let me not only find myself ON this path, but STAY on it as long as I did, as part of some “plan” He had in mind.

On THIS side of grace, I know He was there. I have come to believe He was there. I may not understand why things had to happen as they did, but I accept that they happened, and that there is a redemption that has come from it and through it that defies odds and explanation.

Psalm 31:15 - My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me. The word “time” in this verse translates to Eth in Hebrew. “Eth” describes (a) regular events, (b) an appropriate time for a recurring incident, or (c) a set time. My set times are in God’s hands. My regular events are in God’s hands. My circumstances are in God’s hands. Events that have occurred and will recur in my life are in God’s hands. My whole world is in God’s hands. The set time of what was to happen happened. The set time of all the events in my life that have occurred happened while I was with God, never apart from Him. 

Joel 2:25 - “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten – the great locust and the young locust, the other locusts and the locust swarm – my great army that I sent among you.” For me, I tend to look at this passage as more allegorical than literal. In fact, most Biblical scholars will tell you that there is no clear-cut definition of what the author meant by “locusts.” Locusts ate away or I allowed locusts to eat away a lot of my life, and this verse is a promise, a covenant, that those years will be repaid. In fact, the term “repay” (or as another translation states, “make up”) used in this verse translates to Shalam in Hebrew. “Shalam” means to be sound. To be uninjured. Secure. Peaceful. Complete. It can mean a physical restitution or repayment OR it can mean restitution in attitude of the heart.

In spite of the years lost to me, I will be made complete. I am being made complete. My past will be peaceful. I will make up with my past. My heart will be restored. My heart is being restored, renewed daily.

You make beautiful things out of the dust.

Isaiah 61, especially verse 4, is one passage that has meant more and more to me as my life goes by. No matter how many times I re-read this passage and wind up writing about it, something new always jumps out at me and grabs me by the heart. The ideas of rebuilding, renewing, and restoring speak such words of healing and hope to me that they have become catchphrases for my growth.

Now, I’m not so naïve as to think that I have started aging backwards, nor do I think that God has frozen my aging process and it’s actually somewhere around 1994 according to my internal chronometer. Although, to be fair, many people do seem somewhat amazed when they learn what my biological age IS, especially since I don’t harp on about my back aching or some other age-induced malady. 

But I do think the restoration and healing given to me does partially explain why I am so…youthful in many ways. Exuberant. How and why I find hope when I should by all rights just be bitter and pissy. How and why I have a passion for working with high school and college students.

God is in the process (and I pray that he never stops) of giving me the best of both worlds: the wisdom that comes from being my age coupled with the zeal of someone half my biological age.

It’s like a regeneration.

But I’m still not ginger.


A Fathful Realist said...

Deep thoughts by Sonny L. It has a nice ring to it. Very strong writing my friend. In thinking about it it sits with me because as you know I am in this process of trying to be made whole through the understanding of my past. I am sure I will be coming to you for a lot of advice as a continue this journey. My heart has been directed towards understanding my history and finding my familial roots. Through that understanding I am hoping that I will begin to find a resemblance of this inner peace. The whole idea of being made whole.

Going to be a slow one but I will keep pressing.

Anonymous said...

my heart is shouting "YES AND AMEN!" to this, sonny.

so, so beautiful. thank you.

Anonymous said...

"I will make up with my past. My heart will be restored. My heart is being restored, renewed daily."

Great words for my heart to marinate on this morning. i don't think me and my past have made up yet. I know that carries over into life and every area now. God wants to restore - he wants to redeem. I need to exhale and let him.