"Christ, yesterday and today; the beginning and the end. All times and seasons belong to him." As we move into a New Year, I believe these words taken from the Catholic Christian Liturgy of Easter suggest an approach to the days ahead.
My time is precious, as is everyone's. One task leads to another and then blends into a third. Before I know it, the day, the week, the year is gone. Busyness devours my time. It can be pretty tiresome and often frustrating. Sound familiar?
As we face a fresh year, the tasks of the days ahead probably won't be much different than the tasks of the days we've just left behind. A lot will need to be done and a lot of time will be needed to do it. But how do we keep our calendar from getting out of hand? Is there a way?
I believe the way is to deliberately let our time get out of our hands and put it in the hands of God. All times and seasons belong to him. Maybe an appropriate first morning thought isn't: "I have so much to do today," but "God is planning to do a lot today; how can what I do be a part of his plan?"
Perhaps rather than seeing time as ours, it could be seen as God's. To me, God isn't a piece of the puzzle of my life that I'm putting together over time. I am a piece of God's puzzle, which God is forming in his time.
And I believe every one of us is an essential piece of God's puzzle. Our time is precious and I believe God uses it to bring about his plan for good.
How we spend our time is important. Spent with a view that says, "I need to finish what I'm doing so I can get on with the next thing I have to do," time will be tiresome and frustrating. Spent with a view that says, "What I'm about to do has purpose and God will use it for good," time can become sacred and fulfilling.
The way we use our time may not always seem like it has a purpose in God's plan. I'm going to vacuum the living room; I've got a truck route to cover; I'm taking a stupid math exam today.
What's the purpose? I can't pretend to have a pat answer, but can share something that Saint Paul said "Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord." (Colossians 3:17). This is from one of the great Christian missionaries who spent his time not only preaching the Word of God but also making tents. He seems to be saying that how and why we spend our time doing whatever it is we're doing makes all the difference.
Perspective can change ordinary time to a graced moment. We can look at tasks as a bunch of things to check off our list or as a contribution to the plan of God. Attitude can transform weariness to wholeness.
But perspective is so hard to change; attitude is so difficult to sustain. How do we manage that?
Mychal Judge, a Franciscan friar, who gave his life while serving the stricken on Sept. 11, 2001, had a simple prayer which addresses that question. Each morning he would pray: "Lord, take me where you want me to go today. Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say. And keep me out of your way."
Mychal truly believed that all times and seasons belong to God.
Relying on God rather than ourselves, I believe we can renew our choice each morning to give all our times and seasons to God. In his hands, every day is new.
Happy New Year.