We went to a new church yesterday, visiting my friend Super G who lives south of the city (a strange thing about this area is how seldom residents cross the Charles River. Cambridge-siders live, work & play on one side, Bostonians on the other. So when we make the trek across it feels like a huge field trip. I’ve been trying to break this trend for years now, to no avail.)
I can’t say that I love visiting churches – there’s often this odd pressure to explain why you’re there, which feels weird if you’re just passing through or live so far away that there’s no reasonable expectation you’ll come back. But what I DO like , what makes the awkwardness worth it, is the chance to hear a new speaker for the first time. I’m fascinated by different public speaking styles, and my favorite thing is seeing someone who is not just a “good” speaker but fully inhabits his or her own style and quirks without embarrassment. It’s surprising how much easier it is to hear from someone who is confident to be at the front of the room.
Yesterday, the pastor, Aaron, had this quality. He’s casual, and enthusiastic. We’ve been in a heat wave here in Boston, so he warned us he was going to be covered in sweat by the time he was done and that he was fine with that, so we shouldn’t worry about it. He used elaborate arm gestures to illustrate the scenes he described (he has the wingspan of Michael Phelps, so those waving arms took up most of the stage) and he was having so much fun that we felt invited into that with him.
He described the tendency we have to offer up our suggestions to God when things aren’t going the way we want them to. It’s as if we assume God has so much going on, He’ll be thrilled if we intervene with some suggestions about things it seems He hasn’t gotten around to yet. We’re geared for action, rather than trust.
“How many of us,” Aaron asked, “have ever said to God: No problem, I know You’ve got this. I’ve got all the time in the world!, and then just kicked back and waited patiently?”
I missed the next ten minutes of his sermon because I was mulling over how amazing it would be to feel like I had all the time in the world.
It’s true, I realized. Despite our cultural adoration of all the “Live like today is your last day on earth” messages, it’s kind of a horrible way to live. It stresses me out. The intention sounds noble – a way to sort out what matters most to you and prioritize. But it’s based on the lie that what is important to me, in a big picture/life goals/bucket list kind of way, is what I’m supposed to be focused on TODAY, right now. As the speaker pointed out, we don’t know how many days we have, and we’re usually pretty bad judges of how we should spend our time. We need God’s help. And when it comes to the things on God’s plan for our life, one of the perks of faith is being able to trust that whatever I’m supposed to accomplish, I can accomplish. God will open doors, light them up, and shove me through. I don’t have to spend my time banging on the walls of my life, searching for a secret passageway. God will let me know when it’s time to do whatever comes next, and point me in the right direction. In the meantime, I’ve got all the time in the world.
Thank you, Pastor Aaron.