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About the episode

Time is the anvil that God uses to make a faithful soul! Ever wonder if your prayers go higher than your rooftop? One of the great indicators of Christian maturity is understanding it isn’t about your time but God’s time.

In this episode, Melissa and Bishop Wright have a conversation about time, patience, the season of Advent, and trusting God’s timing. In the wise words of St. Peter, “Let us not forget a thousand years is but a day to God!”  Listen in for the full conversation.

Before listening, read For Faith.

Transcript

Speaker 1: 0:00

Time is the anvil that God uses to make a faithful soul. I mean, I think one of the things that buys us off from really going deep with God is the way that God does time. We wonder, you know, do our prayers go higher than our rooftop? Because things don’t happen immediately. And one of the great indicators of Christian maturity, spiritual maturity, is understanding that it’s not about your time, it’s about God’s time. This is For People with Bishop Rob Wright.

Speaker 2: 0:40

Welcome to For People with Bishop Rob Wright. I’m Melissa Rao and this is a conversation inspired by For Faith, a weekly devotion sent out every Friday. You can find a link to this week’s devotion and a link to subscribe in the episode’s description. How’s it going, bishop?

Speaker 1: 0:55

Good morning. Good morning.

Speaker 2: 0:58

Your For Faith devotion this week is based off of 2 Peter, chapter 3, verses 8 through 15a, which speaks of God’s timing and what that means for us. You named a time and you propose that perhaps time is the natural phenomenon, that God uses time to make us faithful. Bishop, patients and I aren’t comfortable bedfellows, and so I guess this devotion couldn’t come at a better time. I’m interested in what you say about God using time as a tool to teach us and grow our faith. Can you unpack that a little bit more?

Speaker 1: 1:39

Well, on the way to answer that question directly, let me take you back to my most wonderful seminary professor, who reminded us when we were talking about systematic theology, whatever that is. He said that remember that time is a creation by God. So time is a creation, it’s a thing, it’s a space, it’s a way to be, it has purpose. It is meant to be a holding place for God’s endeavors, and so time is not arbitrary. Time is actually something purpose built by God, and so that helps me at least to think about time. We waste time, kill time, bide our time, all those things that we do with time. Time is one of God’s most precious gift, and the older we get I’m heading into a big birthday in February the older we get, the more we realize that God isn’t making any more time for us, and so it’s not meant to be morbid or create anxiety. It’s meant for us to sort of ring out of every day its preciousness, its preciousness. So when I’m thinking about 2 Peter, 2, peter does some funny things there. First of all, he says that he asks us not to forget that, with the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. And what I hear 2 Peter doing what I hear Peter doing is reminding us is that we hold time in a particular way, but God holds time also in a particular way. I think this is what Dr King is trying to say that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. So time is this long thing, and I guess, if we race to the end of the movie here, what I think God is doing in 2 Peter is trying to help us understand is that God is a space, that time is a space that God is holding to demonstrate God’s patience with us, so that all of us can have ample time and ample invitations to come and bend our lives towards God. And so time, though we are impatient often, and though we wonder why God won’t hurry up and intervene. You know it was 400 years of praying before the Hebrews walked out of Egypt, right, and God said I’ve seen my people’s crying and pain and misery, etc. So maybe that helps us sometimes, I think, to realize that maybe God is doing something creative in time and that our best response is to try to thread the needle between those things that require patience of us and those things that require urgency from us.

Speaker 2: 4:44

Oh, I like that.

Speaker 1: 4:46

Yeah, I think that’s the sweet spot, right, trying to figure that out Well.

Speaker 2: 4:52

I took the liberty of looking up some famous quotes about time.

Speaker 1: 4:55

There you go.

Speaker 2: 4:56

And I was hoping to share a few of them with you to get your thoughts on the matter through a faith-based lens.

Speaker 1: 5:01

Oh, my God.

Speaker 2: 5:02

All right ready First. One Time is the wisest counselor of all, by Pericles.

Speaker 1: 5:08

Yeah.

Speaker 2: 5:09

What do you think?

Speaker 1: 5:10

Oh, no doubt about it. The way the Bible says, that is, let patience have her perfect work. And I think that’s one of those wonderful pieces of wisdom that come to us is that sometimes we’re in a hurry. Sometimes the things that seem urgent are actually not urgent. I think back now to my younger self, and oh, the things that I would want to share with my younger self. I mean, I haven’t figured it out now, and I imagine in 20 years I’ll have something to say to my 59-year-old self if God should give me that length of life. But yeah, no, I think that’s absolutely right. I think we move from information to wisdom over time.

Speaker 2: 5:55

All right, so this one’s another one. Stephen Covey says the key is in not spending time but investing in it.

Speaker 1: 6:03

Yeah, yeah, no, that’s beautiful, that’s exactly right, and I think this is again here. Again we see Jesus asking us to invest our time in those things right that are eternal and not just temporal. He’s asking us to spend our life in things that really are redeeming right, that really have real value and really are that really can make us wealthy love, forgiveness, generosity, service, selflessness. So, yeah, I think Brother Covey is just. I think he might have ripped off a little bit from scripture, but that’s okay.

Speaker 2: 6:40

I think like all the wisest people do.

Speaker 1: 6:42

Yeah, intentional or not? Yeah yeah.

Speaker 2: 6:44

Yeah, okay, last one for now, the two most powerful warriors, and this is by Leo Tolstoy.

Speaker 1: 6:51

Okay.

Speaker 2: 6:52

The two most powerful warriors are patience and time.

Speaker 1: 6:58

Yeah.

Speaker 2: 6:59

That one hurts.

Speaker 1: 7:00

Yeah Well, I mean, I was trying to say something like that, perhaps not as profound, when I said that time is the anvil that God uses to make a faithful soul. I mean, I think one of the things that buys us off from really going deep with God is the way that God does time. We want it now, we want it yesterday. We wonder, you know, do our prayers go higher than our rooftop? Because things don’t happen immediately. And one of the great indicators of Christian maturity, spiritual maturity, is understanding that it’s not about your time, it’s about God’s time, and that’s kind of hard to get your head around these days, especially when everything is a click, a click away from our greatest desires. I mean, amazon will bring it to your doorstep, you know, with the drone, and so we wonder, is God even worth it because Amazon can get it to me faster? Right, exist that Amazon can deliver those things that, ultimately, that ultimately mean life for us? Right, we can get the goods and services quick these days if you’ve got the right checking account. But God has a delivery system which doesn’t always, you know, make the consumer first. We’ll say it like that, and so I think that’s the way in which we get to know God. I think that God’s timing is the way in which we get to know maturity, is the way we get to come to real faithfulness, because real faithfulness is trusting God with you know, with the way that God does time, and that’s a whole different thing. And I think a lot of people walk away from you know a deeper faith, life with God, a deeper relationship with God, because they just don’t like the way that God does time.

Speaker 2: 9:03

Well, neither do I.

Speaker 1: 9:05

Yeah, and let me just, let me hurry up and say, as I’m sitting here, sounding like some old wise man, I don’t like it either. I don’t like it either. I mean there are, there have been times in my life when I’m like, hey, man, I mean what you doing up there, you know, don’t you hear me crying out to you? And don’t you see the world and the mess that it’s in? And where’s your intervention in the Holy Land right now? And I mean and we could go on and on and on. You know why? Why won’t you overthrow the oppressors? Yesterday, god, and I imagine that faithful people have struggled with that, you know, from from time in memorial, um, and it’s not that God is not here’s the here, look, let’s just get to it. One of the things that I like about the way that God does time is is that sometimes we want to outsource to God those very things that God has given us the power and the agency to take up ourselves. So we want to, we want to outsource some stuff to God, and God is saying you know, I’m sitting here, god is actually sitting here waiting on us. You know, and so I. You know one of the metrics that I try to use for myself in terms of my faith life is is that, uh, before I actually start praying that God would intervene, I asked myself have I done everything with the gray matter, with the resources, with all the things that God has given me? Have I done everything, uh, to meet God at the intersection where I can say now, god, I’ve done exactly everything I can do, I’m at my wit’s end. Won’t you intervene? And maybe God is using time for us to develop the real agency that we sort of talk about on Sunday, you know, uh, for our Sunday life to match our Monday life. So I think God is a is a very wise leadership instructor, and God you know. Salolinsky said that you should never do for people what they can do for themselves, and I think that God is using time for that.

Speaker 2: 11:07

All right, friends. Well, speaking of time, we’ll be right back after a short break.

Speaker 1: 11:14

Hi listeners, Thank you for listening to Four People. A space of digital evangelism. You can keep up with us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. And now back to Four People.

Speaker 2: 11:32

And we’re back, bishop, can you talk a little bit more about the difference, um, or I guess, the nuances, between patience and urgency? You know, like that, that urgency, that that’s kind of like okay, yeah, how do we practice patience and yet decide what is worthy or deems urgency?

Speaker 1: 11:54

Right, yeah, no, I mean I think, well, I’ll take a stab at it, because I haven’t gotten it all figured out. You know, here I mean these meditations that I offer are just an offering. They’re not from somebody who’s got it sorted. It’s me reacting to scripture that pops up for us as Episcopalians every week. So I haven’t got that figured out. I think that if we’re either sort of making an offering here, I think I would say you know, I would say that we’re supposed to be patient with others. Love is an patience is an expression of love is one of the things I would say. And so, you know, we’re needing to be increase our capacity to be patient with, not only with ourselves, but with others, as God is patient with us, right, I mean, I think that’s the other thing too is that if we’re going to talk in terms of patience, we’re going to really need to talk about first how has God been patient with us? You know, one of the things that concerns me always is some people come into you know new spiritual knowledge, right, they have their own revelation, right, and then all of a sudden now they are impatient with others to achieve you know the new spiritual depth that they themselves have, just you know, achieved right, you know we start shooting all over. Shooting, she said shooting just to be careful, just to be careful, friends, she said should, should, yeah, they start shooting over everybody, which is which is, you know, which is not exactly patience, because it took us some time to get to where we are. And so, you know, patience is that, is that thing that helps us. I mean we should remember that God has been patient with us. First, we have not always hit the mark, we have not always done what we ought to do, etc. So so patience is an expression of love, that’s one, and urgency also is an expression of love. So if we find that we are urgent about some of the circumstances that our neighbors are encountering, if we find that we are urgent about the way that our planet is, that we are treating our planet, etc. Etc. Then that’s a holy urgency, because what it’s, what it’s trying to do, is, I think, is trying to run alongside of what God would have us to do and how God would have us to live, and so it’s always a dance, you know, I, you know, and here’s what I think I think you can be urgent in matters of justice and compassion, right, without being impatient with people, if that makes any sense, because I think there’s an urgency that is born of love, that doesn’t feel like arrogance, right? Here’s a distinction I would make. I would make a distinction between arrogance and boldness, right. When we look at scripture, we see a lot of people being bold because they want to seize the time to join God in God’s enterprise, and that has a certain quality to it which is not over and against people, which is not condemnatory to people, etc. So I think what we’re really trying to do is we’re trying to thread a needle here. How can I use today I’ve been given 24 hours. Nobody else has gotten any more than that right and so how can I use these 24 hours to prioritize God’s values that I say now are my values? I think that’s urgency and I think the patient’s piece is understanding right, but not subordinating myself to, but understanding that it takes time. It takes time for people to adopt new ideas and new values, etc. It takes time for change. It takes time for people to come to the new knowledge of themselves and their surroundings. And again, this takes me right back to God. And so who knows all of that better than any of us? Right? Tolstoy and Covey and the whole lot, right, peter, who knows, who knows that? God knows that. I tell you what’s a very humbling exercise. You know you can, if you’re in Atlanta or if you’ve got a great museum somewhere where you are, you know, go to one of these wonderful exhibits and look at the timeline from when the earth was born, so to speak, until now and count the years, and you really get a sense that we are like the flash of light in the timeline of the earth and of the universe. Right and so, number one, I find that very liberating because it allows me to take some of the anxiety that I bear off of my shoulders right. It doesn’t make me complacent, but it does help me to put myself, I think, on the grid a bit. I’ve got 70, 80, maybe years, maybe a little bit more if health, you know, if health continues. That’s what I’ve got right, and so what I can try to do is bring some urgency to those years, not out of a sort of a manic nature, but out of a gracious nature. I’ve been given all this gift of time, and how can I use it? I’ll miss the mark for sure. Some days, some months, perhaps some years, I’ll miss the mark for sure. But how can I sort of bring some urgency to Jesus’s priorities. What centers us as Christians is looking at the way in which Jesus did time. Jesus had 33 years. He had 33 years and we’re still talking about him, right? One of the jokes I used to tell when I was a local pastor. I used to tell my congregation I made a deal with him. I said look, if you live according to what we’re saying here on Sunday, then I won’t have to lie at your funeral. You know what I mean and that’s what we want. We want people to not have to exaggerate or exercise hyperbole. You know, when our last day comes, we want them to say, hey, melissa or Rob or whomever. You know this is the way in which they use their time and that’s really the important stuff. And so you know God has given us today. You know Jeremiah Lamentations. You know new mercies. You know with every morning or new mercies.

Speaker 2: 18:05

Well, one final question, bishop do you have any suggestions on ways we can be more intentional about waiting and wondering in this pregnant season of that?

Speaker 1: 18:16

Well, waiting for what I think is the question what are we waiting for? And again, that goes back to the point I was trying to make. Sometimes we might be waiting on God to do something that God has empowered us to be able to do. Now, you know the story. I was in Kenya a couple of weeks ago and I may have mentioned it here on the podcast, I forget, but I ran into an organization in Kibira, which is the second largest slum in the world, and this company, a multinational company, has come to bring new technologies into building so they can provide some sustainable, clean housing to people who otherwise don’t have that. And the name of the organization was Start when you Can Start when you Can. So today, you and I are recording this podcast, you know, early in the morning, and so we’ll have, you know, 20 or so hours or more. You know after you and I hang up here. And so how can I, you know, try to meet God? You know, with God’s priorities, with the time, a lot of that’s all. It is Right. And so what I like to think about is is that, how about taking care of my body? How about taking care of my soul? How about taking care of those who love me. If I can get those sort of things done right, then everything else after that really, I have to ask myself are those those things lining up with the way in which my values say I should spend time? And this is why Advent we’re in the season of Advent and Advent for those who are listening, who may not be Episcopalian is just this season prior to Christmas where we think about what it means to wake up to this reality that Jesus is coming among us. What kind of things do we need to redistribute in our lives? Do we need to edit in our lives, audit in our lives? And we get the help from Scripture and we get the help from John the Baptist and all those sort of wonderful characters in Scripture. And this is one of those pregnant times, literally pregnant times as Marius, pregnant. So is this time pregnant? And it’s pregnant with possibility, because the possibility is that you and I can reset. I know the older we get, the harder it is to adopt new ideas and new attitudes and new behaviors, and yet it can still happen and it’s still happening in people all the time. And so the question is what are we waiting for? I want to bring it back to your question and am I waiting on something that really lines up with God’s values? What am I waiting for? How can I bring new urgency and new clarity to the way I say that I want to live? That’s where I think we really use time for good.

Speaker 2: 20:54

Fabulous Bishop. Thank you so much always for always bringing your wisdom to the table and listeners. We’re grateful for you for tuning in to For People. You can follow us on Instagram and Facebook at Bishop Rob Wright. Please subscribe, leave a review and we’ll be back with you next week.