Lately I have been preoccupied with minutes. Each one passes by us as inconsequentially as a raindrop, and together they collect into unstoppable rivers. You spend, on average, around 1,000 minutes out of bed every day. Every son or daughter you bring into the world comes with about 10 million minutes of childhood -- to spend with you or someone else. It's been just over 1 billion minutes since the last books and letters of the New Testament were written. And the total US labor force earned about $31 million combined per minute last year (that's another average -- daytime minutes were more than seven times as costly as graveyard shift minutes, by man-hours worked).
What's my point? Well, we never know which few of those minutes that drift by us will change the whole course of our lives. The Israelites lived through four hundred years of enslavement in Egypt with no change in sight -- never knowing when their deliverer would come. And then, one night, freedom was coming so quickly they didn't even have time to leaven their bread. "Eat the meat roasted over a fire, with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast...," the Lord commands, "with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord's Passover." (Exodus 12:9,11). For centuries, the months passed by in futility on the calendar. Then, the Lord gave his people a whole new calendar ("This month is to be the first month of your year," (Exodus 12:2).
It is sobering to think how quick and how awe-inspiring those minutes of transformation are when they come along. They remind me of other Bible passages like the parable of the wise and foolish virgins who never knew when exactly the bridegroom would be visiting. On a personal level, I am reminded of the random times a loved one has asked me to pray the sinner's prayer with them, or has asked me to lift up their needs in prayer during a trying time to the God they have seen sharing my life with me. I can't tell you I rise to the occasion each time, but I know I need to strive to "be prepared in season or out of season" (II Timothy 4:2), and try to inhabit a sense of constant expectation. Because I'm starting to think that the kingdom of God doesn't operate much on lead time.
As we heard this week, you are a new person with an old history. That's because when you come to know Christ, your redemptive process is both instantaneous and lifelong. And lifelong changes don't come at a uniform rate. We can spend months or years preparing for one moment with no signs of progress until, suddenly, we turn a sharp corner. But those moments come along so powerfully for ourselves and those around us that only God can take credit for them.
We often hear that adage, in this church, that you have the relationship with God that you want. Too true. But the good news is, if you're willing, that relationship could change for the better at any minute.
Written by: Chad Halcom
Edited by: Tamara Sturdivant