Friday, 10 May 2013

The Author of Time & The Bible Marathon

Well, ‘long-time-no-blog’ I hear you say...
Where have I been?

For those of you who don’t live closely to me you may think I’ve been erased off the face of the Earth.  
You wouldn’t be far wrong...

Why?  First of all let’s talk about what it means to be an individual:  
Made in the image of God we are relational beings, creatures of thought, of passion, of expression.  Like our creator, we see the beauty in creation, and therefore cannot help but be creative ourselves.  My friends and I are potent examples of that (also known as the ‘artsy fartsy’ lot)!  The way we think, feel, relate, create, all of these are witnesses to the reality that we are individually crafted.  So my absence of blogging, absence of poetry, absence of cooking, of knitting, of crafting of songwriting...  I have lost myself.  All consumed by the confines of time and the demands of working to pay the bills, I have become the very thing I have resented; a mass produced robot recreated by the hands of culture.

But there is good news...
Okay so no-one wants to hear about what I’ve been doing with my life since last December when I posted about missional communities.  This isn’t a sob story about me.  But you may want to hear how we can reclaim identity in the crisis of modern day life.  I hope to teach you something from my experience...
If you follow me on Twitter, or Facebook, or Pinterest... or whatever latest social network is trending the net right now... you may have seen me mention The Bible Marathon.

In January as part of my ‘to do in 2013’ list, my God-Father challenged me to read the 66 books of the Bible in 66 days.  I laughed to myself.  He’s been doing the marathon for about 7 years now, starting every January with an intense reading of scripture from front to back.  But for someone with long holidays and flexible hours as a missionary, surely it’s too easy for him to complete it, even if he does now have 4 small children...  But me?  No way.  As you may know I have a full time job, a part time masters, a ministry leading a student group, a few mentees, ballet classes, rock climbing, a house to keep and relationships to maintain, all of which I owe my time.  The Bible Marathon for Annie Davies was simply impossible, right?


...‘What is impossible with man is possible with God’ (Luke 18:27)
This verse even out of context combats my pride and stubbornness and leaves me in awe of God’s ways...

When we make time for God in a busy life, everything slows down.
I didn't think I'd be able to read 66 books in 66 days simply because of lack of time...
...but I did!  I finished it!  And on time too! (if you know me you’ll know I’m not on time for ANYTHING).
Without jeopardising all the commitments I had made previously, I was diving into a new book each day, flowing through the chapters like a feather in a stream.  Okay, I’ll admit, there were times I felt like I was swimming through treacle... upstream... with my hands and feet tied together... but even the tedious books were enlightening and revealed so much about God that I had never even considered before!  Doing The Bible Marathon was helping me to put God at the center of every day.  I’d wake up in the morning and know that my day was going to revolve around God's word.  I was rarely able to sit down and read a book in one go, but I’d dig into it throughout the day, finding myself continually encouraged and continually filled with the Holy Spirit in a peaceful way.  Then at the end of each day I’d think back on what I'd read and pray into it before I slept, feeling as though I'd walked the journey of my day with the Lord at my side.

This incredible experience taught me a heck of a lot about God, about myself, about life, creation, salvation...  
But most of all, The Bible Marathon has taught me a lesson in ‘time’.  
God will always make room for himself to be present in my life, however busy.  If we only let him in, he will move through us and give us a fresh breath of his love when we need it (and surprisingly even when we don’t!).  He gives us rest and fills us up whilst still using us in our busyness to serve and to witness.  This brings peace to me.  Very rarely do I feel stressed or hurried, knowing that my creator is ever present and that time is sacred.  One thing just seems to flow into the next, and little pockets of time happen to appear just when I need them.  The Lord brings me work and rest in good measure, but only when I truly let him in, acknowledging his rule over my heart and his call over my life.

So when the Bible talks about keeping a Sabbath, what does that actually mean?
Is God telling us to have a day in the life of a couch potato just ‘vegging’ in front of the TV?  Or sleeping till 3 and not changing out of your pyjamas all day?  What did God do on the first Sabbath?*  God looked back at the week and he celebrated creation.  He assessed his work and saw that it was good.  In the same way, we should take time to ACTIVELY rest, to look back at the week of our life, to repent for the things we failed at and to rejoice in the ways God has blessed us.  By active resting I mean reading the bible, spending time in prayer, engaging in worship.  By having little pockets of ‘rest’, little pieces of ‘Sabbath’ throughout my days, my whole life became an act of worship and praise and my heart was seldom far from the Lord.

The things we choose to spend our time on are the materials with which we construct our identity.
So I repent of my self-centredness, for my darkened heart that made me lost, lost in my own identity trying to be someone by the things I create.  
Mark Driscoll said: “Creative self expression has become an idol.  Whether or not you love your work, the goal is not job satisfaction but faithful worship.”
When time is short you are forced to question where your hope is gone, why your joy has faded and what makes you an individual.  You can’t fill your life with all the things that you WANT to and then face the challenge of filling it with things that you NEED to.  Giving your time to the Lord, making him central to your life recreates you each day in his image.  Only then are your outpourings holy, only then does your life become a worship song and a testimony to the perfect creator.
Our true identity is not in creatively extracting ourselves, but in receiving Jesus.

I am still astounded that God made it possible for me learn such a crucial lesson by experiencing scripture in such a way as I did through The Bible Marathon, but how could I have ever doubted the author of time?

*whether this was literally one day or not is irrelevant, the meaning is more important than the science here.

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