The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan part 5

Posted on 19. Jan, 2016 by in Church News

I’m sorry that I haven’t posted one of these in a while. I got busy or lazy or something. Which is why the chapter of Redeeming the Time was especially timely (hahahaha) and exactly what I needed to read. I have posted the entire Sabbath Liturgy here for you to be challenged, hopefully, as well.

Sabbath Liturgy: Redeeming the Time

“The word of the generous,” Eugene Peterson translates Proverbs 11:24, “gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller” (MSG). This is more than a principle of financial stewardship, it’s a basic truth of life. Generous people generate things. And, consequently, their worlds are more varied, surprising, colorful, fruitful. They’re richer. More abounds with them, and yet they have a greater thirst and deeper capacity to take it all in. The world delights the generous but seldom overwhelms them.

Not so the stingy. Stinginess is parasitic, it chew life up and spits out bones. The stingy end up losing what they try so desperately to hold. As Jesus warned, those who store up treasure only on earth discover, too late, that such storage is merely composting. Or, as he warned in the parable of the talents, trying to preserve a thing intact never accomplishes even that much. Hoarding is only wasting. Keeping turns into losing. And so the world of the stingy shrinks. Skinflints, locked into a min-set of scarcity, find that the world dwindles down to meet their withered expectations. Because they are convinced there isn’t enough, there never is.

This all relates to Sabbath-keeping. Generous people have more time. That’s the irony: those who sanctify time and who give time away – who treat time as a gift and not a possession – have time in abundance. Contrariwise, those who guard every minute, resent every interruption, ration every moment, never have enough. They’re always late, always behind, always scrambling, always driven. There is, of course, a place for wise management of our days and weeks and years. But management can quickly turn into rigidity. We hold time so tight we crush it, like a flower closed in the fist. We thought we were protecting it, but all we did was destroy it.

The taproot of generosity is spiritual. The apostle Paul, when he explains to the Corinthians about the astounding generosity of the Macedonians, remarks, “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us” (2 Cor. 8:5). True generosity always moves it that sequence: first God, then others. First the Spirit, then the flesh.

And it always starts with giving, not something, but ourselves.

Give yourself first to God. Stop now, and give yourself – your breath, your health or sickness, your thoughts, your intents, all of who you are – to Him. And your time, that too. Acknowledge that every moment you receive is God’s sheer gift. Resolve never to turn it into a possession. What you receive as gift you must be willing to impart as gift. Invite God to direct your paths, to lead you in the way everlasting; be open to holy interruption, divine appointment, Spirit ambush (and ask God for the wisdom to know the difference). “Many are the plans in a man’s heart,” Proverbs says, “but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (19:21). Surrender to his purpose with gladness. Vow not to resist or resent it.

Give yourself first to God.

Now the hard thing: give yourself to others. Enter this day with a deep resolve to actually spend time, even at times seemingly to squander it, for the sake of purposes beyond your own – indeed, that occasionally subvert your own (remember the good Samaritan?). That person you think is such a bore but who always wants to talk with you: Why not listen to him? Why not give him, not just your time, but yourself – your attention, your affection, the gift of your curiosity and inquisitiveness?

In God’s economy, to redeem time, you might just have to waste some.

Try this for a week, giving the gift of yourself first to God and then to others. Be generous with time.

See if your world isn’t larger by this time next week.

 

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