Living Here and Now with a Timeless God
Zondervan, 2007, 238 pp., ISBN 0-310-26726-3
Ellen Vaughn is the author of several books but is best known for her books with Charles Colson. She lives in Virginia with her husband, three children, an enormous dog, and a small, emergency back-up pup named Gus. Vaughn explores time in relation to our own experience, to history, to God, to science, and to significance. Her thoughts instigate a sense of both wonder and peace.
"Perhaps many of us are missing one of the most fundamental distinctions of real Christianity: peace." "How can we really live with distinction, at peace in a culture so full of stress and 'hurry sickness'? And how do we live our days in gladness and satisfaction, like Moses prayed, making them count?" (16-17)
"Beauty hurts because it passes. Immutable Beauty awaits, but we do not see it yet. And here in the shadow-lands, life's spool unwinds. Its strands are golden and dark, heavy and light. The wheel won't stop. There is no rewind, no redo. No second draft." (30)
"Here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to
keep in the same place. If you want to
get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
"The reality of God's infinitude also has very practical ramifications. If God is really beyond the constraints of time, unhindered and unperplexed by it, then those who believe in Him can be free to live in absolute peace in time. We can be freed from time's chafing anxiety." (49)
"Time is not our enemy when we are friends with God. It is but a resource to be used, like food or oxygen." (49)
"Because God gives those who receive Him eternal life, our perspective of time can be radically different." (49)
"Anxiety about time and schedules can shape our lives, narrow our relationships, and deaden our days." (50)
"The wristwatch is the handcuff of our time." (61)
"The subliminal message from the watch and the clock is: time is running out; life is winding down; please hurry." "Dr. Larry Dossey, Space, Time and Medicine
"All…our comfort takes time to pay for. And affluence wants to increase; it carries within it an unspoken command: More!" (64, quoting Peggy Noonan)
"But the problem is, our speedy technologies often become masters rather than tools. We can become addicted with speed for speed's sake and lose touch with anything that is time-consuming. Like relationships." (66)
"City life is measured by the 'honko-second,' the measure of time between the traffic light turning green and the driver of the car behind you blowing his horn." (68) "Chronic impatience becomes bottled wrath." (69)
"If adrenaline flows in response to a chronic state of stress--rather than being on reserve for emergencies--it's like revving a car engine to a hundred miles per hour, then leaving it to idle at that speed." (69)
"And at high speed, anything that takes too much time--like helping the weak, needy, and slow, or cultivating real relationships with family, friends, and God Himself--is thrown behind, left like litter on the sideline of a race to nowhere fast." (72) "Are we stressed and obsessed by time? Or are we at peace?" (73)
"Time itself is a gift. It's not a right to which we are entitled, something we use however we want." (73)
Time passes relentlessly. "But by the choices we make, and the priorities we take, we can maximize and exploit each day's opportunities like an investor, figuring out how to best use each moment for the greatest return--not for ourselves, but for the Master's account." (77)
"Going to funerals is a useful practice. The solemnity of remembering a life well or poorly lived can remind us what is truly important in how we use time." (80)
"Controllers can appear to be disciplined, productive, and virtuous." "But if people are control-driven, rather than Spirit-driven, they aren't much fun to be around." (97)
"'Time-saving' skills and devices can help us get more done in fewer minutes--but that's not necessarily the goal. The steward's goal is to serve Christ, to use the time He has given us to extend His Kingdom." "It is about trusting God, listening for His voice, and following His cues rather than compulsively keeping our own schedules." (101)
"Really, theologically speaking, the journey of the believer is one of relinquishing control, not getting more of it." (102)
"It's easy to nod to stewardship but still speak of 'my' time and 'my' plans and 'my' life." (102)
"Time's perceived scarcity or plenty can spur people to do things--or not do things--more so than the beliefs they say are most important." (105)
"If our view of God is too small, our view of time gets too big." (110)
"The notion that time can become an idol may sound ridiculous. No one would set out to worship time. But does it have its claws in us? Has a habitual preoccupation with busyness, stress, pressure, productivity, and hurry crowded out a preoccupation with the glory of God, not to mention a basic contentment with His gift of life?" (110)
"It's a heart issue, a question of just where our highest allegiances lie. If we say we are God's people but spend most of our time pursuing our own ends, our actions in time show our real priority. And while exhortations to be more disciplined, to try harder, and to plan more carefully are fine, all our determined works will not cause us to become passionate stewards of God's time. Only grace can do it." (111)
"What if the way that you and I have habitually thought about time our entire lives is in fact as limiting as the way people used to think about the shape of the earth? What if there is a different way to perceive time, a way that has the distinct virtue of being true--a way that can help open a whole new way to live?" (115)
"If time is elastic enough, and God is big enough, then we might even be able to get out of our usual boxes and bid anxiety and stress farewell" (115)
"Precisely because it is counterintuitive, mind-bending, and strange, considering the real nature of time can open our eyes to a new vision of how huge God really is." (116)
"Being a real steward is not just a set of disciplines we develop, great as that is. It is a fundamental way of thinking. It is an undergirding life philosophy so compelling that it determines our self-concept, our priorities and practices. It is all about serving a God who is the author of history, the Lord of surprise, the absolute Master who is way, way beyond the ordinary flow of time and reality as we so often perceive it." (126)
"Einstein said that time is affected by motion through space. Time is not constant and unchanging, but speeds up, or slows down, dependent on how fast a person or object is traveling." (132)
"The constant thing in our Universe isn't space or the flow of time but the speed of light. And everything else in the Universe has no choice but to adjust itself to maintain light in its preeminent position."
"Most of us still instinctively think of time as constant, that tick, tick, tick, that does not change. But time is relative. It squishes." (141) Both mass and time are relative to the speed of light. (144)
"The closer one approaches the speed of light, the more slowly time goes by." (145)
"The furthest objects the Hubble space telescope has reported are galaxies well over 12 billion light years away. In other words, the light we see from them has taken 12 billion years to reach the Hubble. That is a long way to look back in time." When we look at the sun, we see it as now, but that 'now' is really not now, but eight minutes ago. (150)
"Is it not intriguing that the closer one gets to absolute velocity--the speed of light--the slower time moves? Is it not compelling that light holds 'the preeminent position' in the universe? This is 'not dexterous wordplay, sleight of hand, or psychological illusion. This is how the universe works. So in essence, a being who could ride a light beam--as in Einstein's fanciful daydreams in his youth--would not age at all. For a being who moves at the speed of light, time would not move. This being would exist in an eternal now. This ageless Being, moving at the speed of light, existing in eternity…might He, to some degree, be light? 'God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.'"
"Is God light? Surely we can't pin down the nature of God Himself, as if He can be analyzed, calibrated, and clocked at 670 million miles per hour. God is not an object. But the more we know about the actual nature of light, the more the biblical use of the image intensifies our appreciation of the Divine. Science can be a lens that magnifies God's wonders. Looking through it, we can begin to deduce from the creation the glories of its Creator." (161)
"If we want to live with a new sense of peace in time, we need new ways of thinking about it--and about the God who made it." (163)
"If our conception of this awesome God is too small, our stewardship will be small too." "We'll take our time cues from the hurry-sick culture around us rather than from a perspective of what lasts for eternity." (163)
"When I consider the real nature of light, my gut gets involved… I am bowed by God's grandeur, shocked by the cavalier way I sometimes think of Him, scandalized by the complacency with which I often live. When we see God as utterly higher than ourselves, then we're on our way to relating all else in proper proportion."
"Creation proclaims the glory of God; science shows forth the wonders of creation. Scientific information is a tremendous tool to sharpen blunted brains that need to be honed in order to perceive God more clearly." (164)
"Science's tools do show forth the enormity, elegance, and enigmas of the universe. Science reveals aspects of time that make us more awestruck by what the Bible says about eternity. Scientific knowledge reveals beauties and wonders we'd otherwise not know. Each of us must decide how to respond to these wonders.' (169)
"The more one knows about the world and everything in it, the more God's power stops our breath with awe." (169) "You can tell me that God's ways are higher than my own, and I believe it. But show me through science that enormous gulf between the heavens and the earth, and my hair stands on end.' (173)
"It's titillating to think that He may sometimes operate according to natural laws that are little know, unknown, or in other dimensions that we cannot yet perceive…." (189)
"…we're stewards of however many days He gives us. And the treasure of God's grace is that Jesus not only gives us the future riches of eternity. He can also give us rich joy in the present of our days on earth." (197)
"It's utterly countercultural to make the steward's assertion that our time is not our own. In our egalitarian, rights-oriented culture, the common view is that of course it's our time. End of story. But the steward hears the tick of a different clock. All time is God's; He created it, just as He created us, just as He created all things. The ultimate goal of life, in every breath, is to serve Him, to enjoy Him and His creation, to revel, really, in His presence. This true freedom is only found, paradoxically, in being a bond-servant. Otherwise we end up being a slave to whatever random thing that happens to master us." (202)
"It's countercultural today to buck the obsession with hurry. 'Sitting at Jesus' feet,' so to speak, takes time. The spiritual priorities of prayer, meditation on the Scriptures, fellowship in the community of believers, and serving the needy all require real time investments. They can't be put off until 'later,' when we have more time. This is a lie Satan loves to whisper in our ears. Later … later. It lulls us to sleep." (202)
"But in order to stay tethered to a real understanding of God, rather than turning Him into a small, dim creation of our own imaginations, we have to use time to seek Him as He really is. Since He is so beyond us, this can't be done on the quick. Discerning the holy, holy, holy God requires concentration and attentiveness. If we grab God on the run like a bagel, our conception of Him shrinks to carry-out size. And if our god is too small, we end up, eventually, in the grip of ridiculous idols." (203)
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