an extra day

I just finished the article for this month’s newsletter:

It was totally unexpected. We had no idea that my husband had a paid holiday on Columbus Day. And, it just so happened, when I looked at my calendar, I saw that I had no appointments, no meetings, no commitments to anyone on that Monday. It was as if God gave us a day. In the midst of life’s craziness, God just gave us a day.

What would you do with an extra day? Isn’t this the secret wish of all middle-class Americans? An extra day. I thought about the work we could get ahead on and the many projects we want to do around the house. But, when I gave it some serious consideration, I realized that what I really longed for was time with God. Maybe God gave us an extra day to let us know how much we craved time focused on our friendship with the One who made us.

I find God most readily at the beach. There is something about the way the seashore is both constant and changing, is vast yet personal, a great friend and a mighty force, filled with energy and essential to life that leads me to see God. So we packed our car with necessities and headed to the presbytery’s retreat center on High Island, not far from the beach.

There we enjoyed the gift of uninterrupted time … time to listen to God, to worship God, to enjoy the very essence of life. I believe this is what Sabbath is about – the gift of time. After working for six days creating it, the world was not complete without a day of rest … time for contemplating the greatness of creation and the wonder of God’s work.

In our world, we are addicted to work; we have no time for “leisure”. Time is our most priceless commodity, and we feel we need to fill every moment with some sort of productive activity. We are made to feel guilty for taking vacation days, yet we have fewer vacation days allotted than other nations. Even so, we take more sick days than other nations … too much work makes us sick … and still we’re back at work as quickly as possible.

Even more than money, we idolize our own achievement. We have convinced ourselves that the ultimate value in life comes from what we are able to do, make, or produce. When I read the Bible, though, I see a far greater value on “fruitfulness” than mere work. Fruitfulness implies there is a partnership between the work I do and what God is doing through me. In order to bear fruit, we need to give some time to the Lord to work through us. We need to be grounded in our relationship with Christ that can be nurtured only through the gift of time … time to learn, time to listen, time for prayer. This is what Jesus condemns Martha for, isn’t it? All work and no time to listen and be fed. Work is good, but only when it is in partnership with what God is up to in our lives.

It is imperative as we move into these next challenging decades, that we give God the time needed to make that relationship strong, full, and vital. A few years ago, I heard about a goal of one hour a day, one day a month and one week a year solely focused on God. Columbus Day was my day this month. I did nothing by our cultural standards. I read. I sat. I walked on the beach. I watched the waves and the birds playing with them. Mostly, I listened to what God was saying. I cannot expect that God will grant me with an “extra day” every month. So I pledge to order my life in such a way to give that time to God. I invite you to do the same.

to be published in the November/December edition of Connections, a publication of the Presbytery of New Covenant.