Time is an existential issue for human beings.
“As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work, While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:3-5
Yeshuah recognized a form of urgency most of us try to ignore.Things like cancer bring it into focus. We can no longer just whistle past the graveyard.
God created space, time and matter and the physical laws simultaneously from a single event, a single point according to science; a fact which is also on all fours with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
In both views, Jesus stating the personal human view, Genesis the cosmic view, the idea of time is finite. Christ recognizing the endpoint of the fleshly life in the cross, Genesis, the beginning. That which has a beginning, and an end is finite. But it can be subdivided into infinitely many small segments, and in that sense is another kind of infinity. And it is relative. A tremendous amount can happen in a very small amount of time. This is true for the Big Bang theory, relativity and also for our lives.
Cancer has heightened my awareness of time. Every day is a lifetime, and there is nothing small about it unless I choose to make it small. Every activity is an adventure. After my foot heals, I will get up one morning and go rappelling, or to serve among homeless people in the streets of Covington, as God wills. Your adventures are your own and might be different.
God, who created time, is not bound by time. He sees the entirety at one time, from alpha to omega, just as we see length, width and height at once. He is outside time and not bound by it. He spun the universe out of the center as a potter spins a pot out of a lump of clay.
Jesus, for a “time” was a little lower than the angels (Heb. 2:9). Taking up the body of flesh he temporarily experienced time as we do. This was so Jesus could experience suffering and death as we do, out of His love for us.
One of the teachings of cancer is a focus that says: “OK, buddy. This is the day God has given you to live in. What are you going to do with it? Will you spend it foolishly, moping around the house, ruminating about the past, worrying about the future? Will you take a whole bottle of pain pills because you are afraid? Or will you begin today on your knees saying what will you have me do, my Master?”
One of my favorite parables is the workers in the vineyard, Mt. 20:1-16. From my worldly perspective I wasted a lot of days, although now I know He was preparing me the whole time for His purposes and His reasons. Then in my 11th hour He summoned me. “Come and work in my vineyard.” And I am blessed all the more because I feel the urgency of time. But I would caution everyone; not all get a stay of execution like I have had these last 5-1/2 years. It is His choice and from His judgment there is no appeal.
I am also lucky that I grew up poor. I never had much of anything until I went to law school. But then I started feeling entitled to things like new cars and living in “safe” neighborhoods. I lost sight of the fact that these are not things anyone is entitled to. They aren’t even good for us in the spirit. And a 12-room house and a BMW, I am glad I didn’t buy those things. More to become attached to, more to give up. Mark 10:19-22.
But in the parable, we see that the workers who came last received the same reward as those who came first, and the others were jealous. And we saw the same in the parable of the lost son in Luke 15:30-32. Obviously, it is inappropriate in both cases. A brother should rejoice that his brother lives. And we who labor do so, not for ourselves, but for Him.
The issue is “me.” We are focused on ourselves, a frequent source of error for everybody. Even the saved fall short. We try, we fail, we try again. This does not negate salvation; it confirms it! But when we are baptized as believers, we put “me” to death. Ro. 6:1-6. So that we can be raised with Him as spirits of light! Eph. 5:8-15. This is not just in some distant place but here and now! We are filled with the spirit in our prayers daily and go forth empowered as Christ lives in us, each according to the measure of our faith.
Another blessing, that is a tough one, is that the cancer gives Him so many new ways to test me. Those I pass, strengthen my faith, as in a hard one in May, and I was in Christ Hospital nine days with septicemia. It was tough, but I returned and bounced back and had a great summer learning all about community work through the shelter. On the other hand, I think he may have seen fit to remind me that I am not Superman, with this tri-malleolar fracture, and being out of action for a whole month. Longer as far as climbing and hiking adventures that I love. My place is at the foot of the cross, on my hands and knees before Him.
The truth is that whatever we think, we are poor, naked, blind and pitiable and only in Christ are we anything. Rev. 3:17. We shouldn’t think highly of ourselves. Ro. 12:3. So, we go out with our spiritual eyes wide open, a firey passion in our hearts, we accept challenges, not for our glory, but for His. We are honored to lay aside our plans and hopes, blessed by suffering, rewarded by hardship, and set free by the release from the flesh.
It is a hard road. Why is anyone surprised at this? You don’t take it all at once. It starts with the commitment, in our hearts; “Jesus, this is what I want. I know I am not strong enough to do it. I know I am not brave enough to face it. But please accept my commitment. And lend me some of your vast strength and courage when I need them. All I have to offer is my pitiful existence, but it is yours, if you will have me.”
One more thing. There is the cross. Jesus had to carry His cross for His own execution. No way back; no way ‘round. The only way out is through. Our solemn commitment to Him leads us here. But we should not worry about it. Whatever comes, however it hurts, He will get us through. Focus on the walk we walk today. The future will play out in its own time. Don’t give up today for tomorrow.
I always remind people I talk to and myself as well, we did nothing to earn a life in the body; it was a gift. We did nothing to earn the blood that saves us. It was a gift. This day is a gift. Don’t waste it with sadness or worry! Be happy in it. Whatever is here take it and make the most of it. And above all, be happy!