I spent the better part of today toting my baby to a doctor appointment then heading off to the social security office to request a new card for my newly adopted son, Cannon. And as everyone will tell you, waiting hours on end at a government run office is pure bliss. Heaven on Earth, really.
OK, so I lied. I have never met a single soul that enjoys crowded waiting rooms at the DMV, "comfortable" plastic chairs at the Social Security office, or rubbing shoulders with sweaty strangers at Jury Duty. Seriously, I grow impatient sitting in my living room trying to even CALL a government office! Thoughts of better ways to spend my day fill my mind, make me impatient, and (if I'm honest with myself) probably even a bit unpleasant!
Well, this got me to thinking of a book I recently read, The Screwtape Letters, by the insightful C.S. Lewis. In the book a Senior Demon by the name of Screwtape writes letters to his nephew (who is a junior tempter) with lessons on how to draw a man's heart away from God. He teaches his nephew the subtle art of temptation in the hopes of winning that soul from the "enemy" (God, in the case of the demons).
I bring up this book not to say that he workers at these offices are demon-like and provoking me to sin...but because there was one particular temptation technique from Screwtape which has been imprinted on my mind since I first read the book. One that I have to remind myself of frequently when I feel "my time" is being robbed from me and I become anxious...without further adieu, here is the excerpt:
"...He [humans] regards his time as his own and feels it is being stolen. You [Screwtape is addressing his nephew here, the junior tempter] must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'my time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that as he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours..."
I am so often blind and forget God's truth:
"Then God said, 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years'"
Genesis 1:14 reminds me that GOD CREATED TIME. Time imposes no constraints over Him, for He is eternal. And if He is the literal keeper of time, why should I live each day as if I own the 24 hours set before me? What right have I to be upset when I feel "my time" is being wasted?
Another quote from the Demon Screwtape to his nephew:
"The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels. He is also, in theory, committed to a total service of the enemy; and if the enemy appeared to him in bodily form and demanded that total service for even one day, he would not refuse. He would greatly be relieved if that one day involved nothing harder than listening to the conversation of a foolish woman [or wait in line at the social security office, DMV, etc...] ; and he would be relieved almost to the pitch of disappointment if for one half-hour in that day the enemy said 'now you may go and amuse yourself'. Now if he thinks about his assumption for a moment, even he is bound to realize that he is actually in this situation every single day."
Every. Single. Day.
Each second of each day belongs to the Lord. I need to commit the use of my time to Him. Whether I am preparing dinner for my family or sitting at the DMV. My time is His.
I am (lastly) reminded of Mordecai's advice to Queen Esther:
"Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
Esther of course was in a position of much higher authority and power than most of us...or was she? We have orders from the Eternal King, orders to make disciples of all nations and spread the Good News with others.
So perhaps my small talk with the man next to me at the Social Security office wasn't such a waste of time after all. Maybe my encouraging words of adoption to the mom in the doctor's office wasn't just "filler" during my waiting room stay. I hope the words and kindness I shared in these moments would somehow be pleasing to my King. And I pray that I am constantly reminded that my time is not my own, because perhaps I am here (or there, or anywhere for that matter) for "such a time as this"...
Highly recommended reading (along with the Bible of course!)