First Monday of Advent: out of time

First Monday of Advent

Psalm 90; 2 Peter 3

Time is the weirdest thing.

I’m fascinated by what I’ve always thought of as “vacation time,” that curious sensation that time is moving more slowly than it usually does. I probably first noticed it on youth trips when I was growing up. We’d go away for a few days, but those days felt like weeks. As an adult, the phenomenon continued, but I noticed that time seemed to have learned a new trick—it could also fly by, erasing weeks or months in what seemed like days. While the passing of a year was once a serious milestone, I can now hardly remember how many years have passed since major life events. I even plan to do things over several years. What happened to me?

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9

At the beginning of this year, I transitioned from full-time youth ministry into a full-time writing and speaking career. Every minute of this year has been lived on vacation time. I know some of it is that all of my routines have been upended and that I’m probably experiencing things a little more deeply as a result. While the year has crawled by, I don’t think I’d have survived it if time had been moving at normal speed. I simply would have felt out of control. And believe me, a lot of this year felt like my family was skidding toward a wall. Or a cliff. Something with an abrupt ending. There are times in life when the idea that a thousand years is like a watch in the night to God makes me feel a little insignificant, but there are other times when I feel relief thinking that all the trouble of my extended present reality is just a flicker on God’s timetable.

With that in mind, I find this an incredible request from Psalm 90:

“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us—yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17

At a glance, it reads like a simple appeal for a nod of divine approval. But “establish” has bigger implications. “Establish” involves permanence, not just a setting in motion or a momentary blessing. The writer of the psalm is asking God to make the work of our hands meaningful—and make it meaningful to God, with a permanence that seems permanent to an entity that takes in a thousand years at a hiccup. Are you ready to involve God in your life at that depth?

For reflection:

Remember a time when you felt a little lost in the details of your life. How did you keep yourself open to God during that time? Where did you resist God’s presence?

When it comes to “the work of your hands,” how involved do you want or expect God to be?

How are you experiencing time in your life now compared to when you were a little younger (or a lot younger)? What do you gain spiritually from the way you experience it now? What have you lost?

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