NOW is the Time!Fr. Barnabas Powell
They say timing is everything! And, most of my life has proven that this is true. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve either jumped too early or waited too late on actions both small and great (A little poetry for you today!).
And the very concept of time is both a blessing and a curse. Just the other day someone reminded me that the year is half over already and I had to stop and think about that for a moment – Where did the time go? How we embrace both the blessing and the challenge of time is absolutely essential to our spiritual peace and spiritual health!
Look at our lesson today in 2 Corinthians 6:1-10:
BRETHREN, working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation.” Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. We put no obstacle in any one’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watching, hunger; by purity, knowledge, forbearance, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
St. Paul is doing his best to help this wonderfully vibrant and a bit unruly Corinthian parish get a grip on the “sober joy” that will both preserve their enthusiasm and curb their recklessness. And it turns out how they face timing is the key!
Paul teaches them that, if they are to not have received the grace of God in vain (what a horrible thought!), they are going to have to confront how they deal with time! First, God’s timing is always right on time. And His Time is NOW. There is no moment in my life where I can say “God, I’ll get to You later.” No! In this moment, in this very minute, is the time to turn to God. Now is the “day of salvation.” All the grace you need for the moment you’re in is here, right now!
Next, St. Paul reminds us that God’s Plan is also perfect, but it’s going to take endurance. And endurance is simply being faithful over time! One step at a time! Endurance always flows from avoiding borrowing trouble from the future and dwelling on either mistakes or accomplishments of the past. Being faithful in the moment I’m in now produces endurance! With the added bonus that, not only does this faithfulness help me grow in the Lord, but it also means I am not getting in the way of others following the Lord.
Finally St. Paul reminds them, and us, that God’s Path isn’t necessarily “comfortable,” but it is worth it! It’s in facing the challenges of this moment with the sure knowledge that this isn’t my “final” resting place, that I am on a Path that leads to a Person. This perspective protects me from both the despondency of my current troubles and the easy escapism of waiting to “go” to heaven “some day.” I’m headed toward a Person, not a place and this Person is my heaven!
Today, how are you handling the gift of time in your life? Do you find that your Present is poisoned by regret from the Past or worry about the Future? It’s time to get our timing right by embracing this moment we are in right now and accepting the grace of God to fill up this moment with His grace so that I can endure and complete the journey to being Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. The lazy Summer months are upon us but I pray you are not allowing these days to be a “vacation” from Church and prayer. Carry these devotionals with you and share them with someone today!