Yet I am confident that I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 (NLT).
Psalm 27:13 is a great text. We will see the Lord’s goodness now, in this life. But how does this happen? How do we get to see the Lord’s goodness “here in the land of the living”?
Answer these questions:
Would you describe your life as “The tyranny of the urgent?” Are you frazzled, fizzled, fried or frantic? Do you get upset when someone keeps you waiting? Is busyness squeezing the life out of you? Are you overworked and underpaid? Is time losing its shape? Do you feel like Bill Murray in the film Groundhog Day? Does shopping, employment, cleaning the home and entertainment, blur the boundaries between one season and another? Is your diary the defining template of your life? Do you wonder where the years go to? Are you losing your days to smallness? Do you need an extra day in the week? Are you worried about tomorrow? Is your life patched together by obligations and shredded by interruptions?
Listen. Part of knowing fullness of life is knowing fullness of time. You will never know abundant life if time is your enemy – a hostile place from which you’re trying to flee. To know fullness of life you need to know that time is a meeting place – a point of rendezvous with God.
Which raises another question. How can busy people in a busy world make time a meeting place with God? Here are two suggestions for experiencing the fullness of time:
Firstly, receive the day. The poet Philip Larkin says that “Days are where we live.” To receive fullness of life, you need to know how best to live each day. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it” (NLT). “This is the day the Lord has made.” Are you worried about yesterday? “This is the day the Lord has made.” Are you worried about tomorrow? “This is the day the Lord has made.” You will never know fullness of life if you let the bitter aftertaste of yesterday keep you from tasting the day that’s on your tongue. And you will never know fullness of life if you let anxiety about tomorrow gnaw away at the experience of today.
“Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not” Matthew 6:27 (NLT).
To know fullness of life you must give your full attention to today. You must free yourself from the bondage of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Now how do you do that? By setting aside a part of each day to worship God.
Here’s the reality: The swells of yesterday and the rip tide of tomorrow will wash you away if you don’t put down an anchor today. That’s because when you make it your practice to meet with God every day, you get to see the day through the lens of grace. And when you start seeing the day through the lens of grace your perspective changes – you begin to see, and know that you are seen.
Now that’s well and good. But how do you make time for God when you don’t have enough time? By saying no to say yes. You’ll only receive the day if you say no to the things that rob the day away. You must choose what not to do. You must identify the impediments and idols that are shutting God out of your life. There are daily structures that bind us and daily structures that free us. Set yourself free. Eliminate the dozens of unnecessary activities that the thief uses to steal, kill and destroy your life. And once you’ve said no, say yes. Adopt a daily pattern of Bible reading, prayer and singing praises to God.
Secondly, keep the Sabbath. Slaves can’t skip a day of work, but free people can. Are you a slave or are you free? To receive fullness of life, you must keep the Sabbath free. Dorothy Bass says, “To keep Sabbath is to exercise one’s freedom, to declare oneself to be neither a tool to be employed – an employee – nor a beast to be burdened. To keep Sabbath is also to remember one’s freedom and to recall the One from whom that freedom came, the One from whom it still comes.”
The fourth commandment in the Ten Commandments says, “Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the Lord your God has commanded you” Deuteronomy 5:12 (NLT). And 1 John 3:24 adds, “Those who obey God’s commandments live in fellowship with him, and he with them” (NLT). Do you want to live in fellowship with God? Keep His commands. “Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.”
Now why does God tell us to observe the Sabbath? There are several good reasons:
It testifies to the way in which the death and resurrection of Christ has transformed the totality of our lives. The meaning of the rest of the week is derived from the first day of the week. It announces the justice and unending dominion of God. It’s a testimony to the fact that God works continually in our midst and we’re continually reliant on Him. It awakens us to the parts of ourselves that cannot be nourished by possessions. It’s a time of refreshment to invigorate us for ministry during the rest of the week. It nourishes an alternative vision of how our lives should be. And it’s a gift from God to practice the freedom God intends for all people – to practice life outside the frantic pace set by financial markets, round the clock shopping and entertainment venues.
We were not designed to work non-stop. We’re not supermen and women. Our bodies, minds, and spirits need to be recharged every seven days. If we ignore this reality, we begin to rot from the inside out. People are physically sick, mentally weary and emotionally dead because they don’t take a day of rest.
Did you know that devout Jews remove their watches on the Sabbath? While it’s a legalistic sort of thing, it makes good sense. Watches link us to the commercial world, to the schedules and responsibilities of our day to day lives. We get beaten by the clock all week, why should we let it beat us down on the Sabbath? Maybe we should take our watches off as well. The action would certainly remind us that the Sabbath should be measured by a different sort of time – by times of worship, refreshing, and resting in the Lord.
One day of the week. God tells us to observe the Sabbath day. He doesn’t say, “Observe a few hours and keep them holy.” The Sabbath is a twenty-four-hour period. It’s a day and a night. To know fullness of life you must keep a twenty-four-hour period in the week holy.
But how do you shelter one day in the week from an economy and society that demands too much from people? Most of the time it’s simply done by the choices we make. It gets down to choosing to keep the Sabbath holy and finding ways to do it.
There you have it. If you want to experience the fullness of time; you must learn to receive the day and keep the Sabbath.
Psalm 90:12 is a fitting prayer: “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT).
One point of entry into fullness of life is learning how to number our days – learning how to make the most of our time. So don’t let the urgent crowd out the important. Don’t let work crowd out worship. Don’t let family crowd out faith. Receive the day and keep the Sabbath. For “Those who obey God’s commandments live in fellowship with him, and he with them” 1 John 3:24 (NLT).