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Keeping Pace with Time

May 18, 2010

Early in the Industrial Revolution, the clock became the most transformative tool to turn humanity from an agrarian view of the rhythm of seasons and calendar to the power of precise, managed, and controlled time.  ‘The clock, not the steam-engine, is the key machine of the modern industrial age.’

                                                                                                                               From Dan Allender’s, Sabbath

There are a few places in my life where “Father Time” seems to loosen his grip on me: my study, the beach, or the mountains.  Interestingly enough, all three of these are used as an escape from time.  I retreat to my study to find solace in the blue voices of my guitars.  I vacate to the picturesque scene of a sandy shore or a mountain river, as though something was holding my head under water and for a short moment I have been allowed to come up for air.  Yet, as I walk through Allender’s book on Sabbath, I am learning to experience what it is like to receive time rather than manage it.  I am starting to see time as holy rather than a commodity to spend wisely.  My time spent in the mountains, on the beach, or in my study should be an engagement in, not a movement away from time.

It is a true rarity to find someone who is not shackled and bound to the hands of the clock.  When we do happen upon this free spirit we publicly talk as though we admire them, but in the privacy of our hearts we mock their weakness.  Busyness and workaholism are seen as a virtues, but more than that, if a person is not a workaholic we categorize them as being less significant. 

Now, I am not advocating we take off all our clothes and run into a forest of redwood trees, to live out our existence as jobless hippies,  (At least not in this post…check back next week!) but our experience with time does need to change.  Instead of trying to squeeze every last-minute out of the day in an effort to give ourselves some false sense of significance, we should orient our lives as though we were walking hand-in-hand – keeping pace with time.  The Sabbath exists to routinely point us back to this eternal rhythm – the rhythm we were meant to feel.

Dan speaks of three aspects of this eternal rhythm: receiving, intending, and protecting. 

Think of the last time you had a good friend visit you from out-of-town.  Once they commit to coming in, a great amount of preparation takes place.  You prepare to receive them by cleaning house.  You plan intentionally to do activities that will be enjoyable, and you protect the time they are in town.  You might even turn your phone off for a bit while they are here.  Essentially, they take precedence over other responsibilities and even friendships in your life.  Now don’t go cheesy on me, but think of the Sabbath as Jesus coming into town for the day to hang out.  Don’t think of “random white guy Jesus” whose picture hangs in a gaudy gold frame.  Picture the guy who knows how to smile, has sun-baked skin, is not afraid to get his hands dirty, and wants to keep Austin weird.  Imagine you’re entertaining the Creator, and all of creation is the playground. 

When I open up the theatre of my mind on this, I immediately notice how much time it requires.  All of a sudden my operating system of workaholism/busyness no longer works.  If Jesus is coming in to party, it is going to take a few days to prepare.  What’s more, after he leaves I am going to have to take a couple of days to process the experience.  This routine has no place for being a workaholic or a busybody. 

Time is holy, and we have been given the Sabbath to remind us every week of this fact.  We are not meant to try to escape time.  We are meant to walk with it, like the shifting of seasons.  Find a new rhythm.  Find a rhythm of receiving, intending, and protecting time with the One that created you.  Join me as I try to live out Dan’s words in this final quote.  It’s dangerous stuff, but something tells me it might pay off more than we know:

The Sabbath is a sensual delight to be enjoyed in communion with God, others, and creation.  It is a dance that moves to the rhythm of beauty, sensuality, and feasting.  There is no notion more at odds with the Sabbath than a day of forced quiet, spiritual exercises, and religious devotion and attendance.  It implies that the day is meant to be spent indoors, napping or praying, but not partying.  Instead, the Sabbath is a day of sensuality when we say to one another, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.  Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (Ps. 34:8).

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