You Have Enough Time

Hurrying crowd

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
~ Matthew 6:25-33

For most Americans, Jesus’ promise of provision in the Sermon on the Mount may seem like a nice abstraction. It’s lovely to think of God providing for our physical needs, but how many urgent needs do most of us really feel? How many of us have really had to worry about the next meal or whether we’ll have someplace to spend the night? Of course, for some in America and for many of our brothers and sisters around the world, these assurances are a much more urgent and wonderful thing, but for most Americans they are promises to meet a need they have never really felt.

But even if God’s rich provision for our nation means that you never have to worry about food or clothing, studying Jesus’ promises in Matthew 6 offers a helpful, encouraging template for thinking about another resource, one which we always seem to be needing more of: our time.

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About Time (Not Really a Review of Arrival)

Arrival movie

I have heard a lot of good buzz for Arrival, so Leah and I rented it for a date night last week. It wasn’t what I expected, but the movie was well-made and intriguing and has been on my mind since then. What follows is less a review than a meditation on some of the movie’s ideas, but be warned: Spoilers ahead!

Arrival is an alien movie that isn’t really about the aliens. Rather, it’s about linguist Louise Banks and her efforts to communicate with a newly arrived alien spaceship on behalf of the US government. The story begins and ends with an emotional gut-punch: the slow death of Louise’s teenage daughter due to a rare congenital disease. It begins and ends that way because we watch her daughter die in the first five minutes, then learn in the last five minutes that all that suffering is still to come for Louise.

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Learning to wait in an efficient world

Earlier today, I had a few minutes free so I decided to run out to make a deposit at my bank, which is located across town. Twenty minutes later, on the way home, I realized I might have made a mistake with the deposit slip. I was at a long traffic light so I whipped out my smartphone and checked to make sure it went through properly. Sigh of relief. Then I wondered if I’d gotten any new emails, so I checked, because why not?

It’s become a commonplace to observe that technology has practically removed time and space from our calculations. You can be there and have that, right now. You want to be in Virginia by lunchtime? Sure, hop in the car. You want to be in Tokyo by tomorrow? Sure, hop on the airplane; you can save time by buying the tickets with your phone on the way to the airport. We live in the age of instant gratification, when, if you feel a sudden hankering to watch SportsCenter and you don’t happen to be near the television in your living room or the television in your bedroom or the television in your kitchen, you can just whip out your iPhone to enjoy live streaming straight to the palm of your hand. Amazon Prime rakes in millions of dollars by getting Season 4 of Downton Abbey to you three days sooner. We have learned to expect everything to be here and ready with an urgency that rivals a nicotine addict reaching for his next cigarette.

Now, it’s true that all that speed and convenience aren’t necessarily bad. Time is limited, and tools that help us invest it well can be a good thing. But it’s worth considering how living with our own, personal technological genie in a bottle affects us. Among other things, it has made simply waiting feel strange and almost wrong. One of the great lessons of Scripture is to wait on the Lord; and waiting on Him is a lot harder when He’s just about the only thing left that expects us to.

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