Friday, December 27, 2013

The Long View

Seek ye therefore first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you.  -Matthew 6:33

That's when I want it!
I think it's a pretty commonly and widely accepted truth that our society is largely one that thrives on instant gratification. The art of waiting and anticipation seem to have slipped into some bygone era.

In our quest for up-to-the-second headlines, we turn to Twitter instead of waiting for the next day's paper, or heck, even the evening news. Want dinner? Just drive up and get it - no need to turn on the stove or prepare something. Just get it now. We want to do our shopping now, so we go online instead of waiting for a chance to go to the store. We even can have new toys sent to us via flying robotic drones within hours.

The list of ultra-conveniences can go on indefinitely, it seems.

And yet, we just got done celebrating a season totally dedicated to waiting in the Church. Advent celebrates the waiting, the preparation, the it-isn't-quite-here-yet. Advent celebrates seeking God.

But there is joy in waiting, in seeking God with anticipation.
God cannot be found amid the noise and distractions of modern Western culture.

God cannot be understood in 140-character snippets.

God is found with time, in stillness, and deep inside our hearts.

I think that's one of the more striking discrepancies between the great Christian mystics and the average modern man. Both seek fulfillment, and often enough, modern man seeks fulfillment in God like the ancient mystic. However, modern man must compete with

modern life for his attention, and modern man gets distracted so easily. Modern man looks for a headline, a sound bite, a perfectly-worded article that gives that light-from-Heaven moment. Contrast that with the mystic, who seeks God in silence and in prayer.

Mystics seem to have bit of a longer timeline on things than your average modern man.

God's timeline.
Like, the timeline never ends.

I try to take this long view whenever possible. It is, after all, God's view. Yes, He answers prayers - just not right now. It took hundreds of years for God to answer prayers for deliverance from His people in Egypt. It took Him millenia to send the Redeemer.

Our deadline-driven society needs everything perfect yesterday to move on. We can't even wait for our packages, so how do we expect to wait a lifetime-plus for certain spiritual fruits? Yet this is precisely what we must do.

It's taking more and effort to distance myself from the instant gratification mindset, particularly in the spiritual life. Jesus' words from Matthew help - seek first the kingdom of God. Then, all of the other stuff will come in its own time. In the meantime, while we wait, we have the Kingdom. And when we have the Kingdom of God, we have everything. Then, like Paul, we will be "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as needy, yet enriching many; as having nothing, and possessing all things." -2 Corinthians 6:10

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