Becoming “Friends of Time”

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This devotion was written by Jim Gritter.

Galatians 4:4 — But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman…
Ephesians 1:9-10 — …according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Waiting implies deprivation. Something we desire isn’t happening. A quick check for synonyms produces downtime, dormancy, hold up, and time wasted. None of these are appealing. We want results, and we want them quickly.

We are on uneasy terms with time.

Mostly we try to manage it. Sometimes we are in a grim “race with time” because there is too little of it to get things done. At other points, when we think we have too much of it on our hands, we seek to “kill time.”

We can do better.

Theologian John Swinton writes, “Gentleness is a vital dimension of the kingdom of God (Mt. 11:28-30), but it is a learned skill that requires work and demands patience, slowness, and timefulness. Such work means that we have to become ‘friends of time,’ a patient people who recognize that ‘we have all the time we need to do what needs to be done.’1

Let that sink in: timefulness … all the time we need … friends of time.

We don’t manage our friends. We embrace them.

The way we relate to time affects our capacity to love and connect. As friends of time, we discover opportunities to notice, listen to, and be fully present to the people we encounter along the way.

And we draw closer to God. When we make time for God, something amazing happens. Time operates differently. We slow it down, stand it still, and make more of it. It is as if a bit of infinity leaks into the everyday.

As Eugene Peterson translates Jesus in The Message, “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Mt 11:29-30)

As we keep company with the One for whom we wait, we feel the ripening of all that is coming to fruition. In the unforced rhythms of grace, we can do this waiting freely and lightly.

What’s your relationship with time?
Are you friends with it?
What would it take for you to develop timefulness as a learned skill?

1Living Gently in a Violent World, p. 19. From the introduction by John Swinton

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