Our church has been blessed by God with the arrival of a refugee family into our congregation. It wasn’t something we planned or prepared for, but in God’s unique and perfect way, they were added to our number.
In many ways it is clear that we were not prepared for them. We had no idea the connections and resources that they need to resettle here in our community. We were and remain confused by the process and the regulations and the redundancy and the “missing” pieces. Yet if we are confused and we are native speakers of English, imagine the journey for people for whom English is a second (or third or fifth or tenth language… yes, they are amazing!).
One of the biggest realizations I have made through this process is how much I idolize my time. Caring and supporting people during a time of tremendous change does not happen in nice neat chunks of time, which can be fit perfectly into my life’s already busy schedule. It happens in fits and starts. It happens on someone else’s schedule or idea of time. It is sometimes inconvenient. I don’t like that. I like schedules and checklists and efficiency and to be in control. And that, my friends, is my idol.
Through this journey of walking alongside our new refugee friends, God is teaching me that God is in control. He has a plan for my life and for their life. When I find myself getting frustrated, it is because I am holding my time too tightly and am not allowing God to move me in directions He wants me to go. I am looking to my schedule and checklist for validation, instead of the God who created me. Oh, God knows my desire for order and structure and He uses that for His glory as well, BUT my life and time remains God’s and God’s alone.
So how does this connect to our frontlines? Learning to live on the frontlines of our lives, is being open to what God is doing on a timeframe that is not our own. It is spending those couple extra moments with your new neighbor even though your “to do” list is long and urgent. It is being open to a spiritual conversation in the aisle of the grocery store or while waiting to pick-up your kids. It is taking your lunch hour to listen to a colleague or invest in a kid at a local school. It is having patience to keep praying and asking God to open doors to share His good news even when it isn’t happening very fast.
Just as my money and resources are not my own, but a gracious gift of God to use in the building of His Kingdom, so my time is not my own. I pray for a greater awareness of the ways that God can use my time if I don’t hold it quite so tightly.
This reminds of something that Paul says in James 4:13-17:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
It is important to stop worshiping our sense of control and the idea that time is our own. One way this is done is by replacing this worship with “whole-life worship.” As we continue to grow in our understanding that all of who we are and what we do can be worship of the living God, our stranglehold on our sense of control is loosened. We become more sensitive to where the Spirit is moving and acting in our everyday, Monday through Sunday lives. We open ourselves to how God is shaping and transforming us to be more like Jesus for His Kingdom purposes on our frontlines.
May God grant us wisdom and courage to say “no” to our sense of control and “yes” to God each and every day.