Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hey, that's mine!!!

Few things are more frustrating than having something taken from us that we consider our own. Think of that last piece of cake. You’d set it aside for a special treat later in the day. All day long you’d tolerated the petty and the routine with the comforting thought of that first sweet bite accompanied by a cold gulp of milk. Imagine the disappointment that spreads over you as you enter the kitchen only to find a plate of crumbs in the sink. “That was mine! How could you?” you say. The culprit pleads ignorance, but it doesn’t really matter, the offense has occurred and you are now beside yourself. You’re in a funk. You’re unduly offended. Forget all the other tragedies in the world, something that was rightfully yours has been stolen from you – the gall!

We can imagine the scene, because we’ve all encountered it. Maybe not with a piece of cake, but certainly with all manner of other things – a potential peaceful afternoon interrupted by an uninvited guest, a day off derailed by a call from work, a nap prevented by a telemarketer’s call. Sometimes it’s not the big stuff in life that bothers us the most. Perhaps, it’s because we don’t lay claim to the big stuff. Most of us wouldn’t say we have ownership over the direction of the economy or that we are guaranteed possession of the next decade of life. But that last piece of cake – these next 24 hours – this nap time – these are mine! And fair warning to anyone who wants to take them away from me.

But do I really have possession of the next twenty-four hours? Do I even have possession of the next twenty-four minutes? Is my time my own? Or is it a gift from the hand of another? As believers, we know the right answer, but we don’t always live from the perspective that answer gives. C. S. Lewis once suggested that if God showed up in person and demanded our service for just one day, we wouldn’t refuse a single request. And if the only command he gave was for us to give up an afternoon off in order to entertain an uninvited, foolish guest, we’d be delighted to do so. After all, God might have commanded something far more dangerous or demanding. And if God actually, ever said to us on that day, take the next thirty minutes for yourself – we’d see those minutes not as something we possess, but rather as a tremendous gift. Lewis goes on to write, if we think about this example for even a few moments, we are bound to realize this is the actual situation we find ourselves in every day.

What would our days look like if we truly began them from the perspective that each day, each hour, each minute is a gift from God? How might this change the way we see the interruptions and the frustrations? Still as time stolen? Or maybe simply as a gift redirected?

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it – Psalm 24:1

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