Wait for it...

Reading: Genesis 10:1-11:9

    I’ve noted in the past that the Bible begins in a garden and ends in a city. No seriously, check out the first two chapters of Genesis and the last two chapters of Revelation. This is the one time I will ever give you permission to skip ahead in a book and read the ending. 

    It’s an interesting progression because cities often have negative connotations in our culture. Cities are dirty. They are crime hubs. They are morally ambiguous at best and places of outright sin at worst. Or at least we tend to talk about them that way.

    Chapter 11 of Genesis tells the story of when humanity tried to skip to the end. The Babylonians decided to build for themselves a city that would harmonize and protect and be the ideal place to live. They were on the right track in that they correctly guessed Yahweh’s ending destination but they went about the journey all wrong. Their focus was themselves and their goal was to do it now by the power of man.

    As a group, they worked together to come up with a plan. They sought power and recognition and most interesting of all -unity. Shockingly, God’s response is not to let humanity try and fail. We so often seem to think that this is how Yahweh interacts with us. Instead God walks among them, he sees what they are building, what their goals are and he reflects that they would be successful if left unchecked!

    I have a theory that the church commits acts very similar to this, and often. We think we know how a story should end so we leap past every important step and congratulate ourselves on seeing so far ahead, as if that in its self is the accomplishment of our salvation. We jump through hoops to get our numbers up, to get people in the pews, but we skip past relationship, we rush over mentorship and education. We see a program that works. We see another church growing and worshipping in beautiful and genuine ways and we mimic the ministry or the teaching style or the music because we misunderstand. We tend to see the tools as the end goal. If it were up to people, the world would have jumped past Jesus, past death and sacrifice, and would have leapt right into resurrection and redemption.

    The older I get, there more I get a sense that God does not rush. There are 65 more books of the Bible and millennia before the end of the story, but these people thought they could accomplish it all faster. Babel is proof that faster is not better.

    We cannot be resurrected if we never died. We cannot build a harmonious city or home or church without following God’s blueprint. I’m just guessing here, and that guess may be based in my own biases, but I think that the foundation of what Yahweh is building in us, individually and as the church, is time. Time spent in solitude, time to mature, time to reflect, time to gain experience, time spent with God and time spent with each other.

    When we take this view, we begin to see that what makes time so valuable and so significant is that time is the space in which we create and nurture relationships. We have 18 years to raise a kid because it takes that long to make a person feel valuable and independent and loved. We spend lifetimes in marriage because it takes that long to unlearn selfishness, to practice sacrifice. We spend hours and hours reading and studying and praying because it takes that long to teach our eyes to glimpse Jesus.

    If there is one man who can come close to adequately conveying the value of time it is Lin-Manuel Miranda:

 

Love doesn't discriminate

Between the sinners

And the saints

It takes and it takes and it takes

And we keep loving anyway

We laugh and we cry

And we break

And we make our mistakes

And if there's a reason I'm by her side

When so many have tried

Then I'm willing to wait for it

I'm willing to wait for it

 

Death doesn't discriminate

Between the sinners

And the saints

It takes and it takes and it takes

And we keep living anyway

We rise and we fall

And we break

And we make our mistakes

And if there's a reason I'm still alive

When everyone who loves me has died

I'm willing to wait for it

I'm willing to wait for it

 

I am the one thing in life I can control

I am inimitable

I am an original

I'm not falling behind or running late

I'm not standing still

I am lying in wait

-Wait for It from the musical Hamilton

Those things in life that are worth loving and living for are also worth our time. However much it takes, however hard it is to let time slip by (seemingly pointlessly), what Yahweh wants for us is worth the wait. It’s either that or the Father comes in and breaks up the party for our own good.

    I’d rather walk through life one step at a time, bit by bit, than to put myself in a situation where Yahweh has to actively de-rail my plans to protect me from myself.