As I was thinking about what to write for this post, a familiar joke popped into my mind. Stop me if you’ve heard it.
Why did the boy throw his clock out the window?
He wanted to see time fly.
Sorry, that was pretty quick; I guess there wasn’t a lot of time to stop me, even if you had heard that one before. Plus, this is a blog, so unless you were planning on pounding the ‘close tab’ button as soon as you read the lead in, I’m not sure how you could have stopped me.
I guess the boy didn’t need to throw his clock out the window this time, because time flew all on its own. And isn’t that so often the case?
Over a year ago, I had this interesting encounter with one of my former high school friends. It was the morning of Easter Sunday, and I ran into him at the bus stop. Given that it was, you know, both Easter and a Sunday, I was headed to church.
We got talking, and he started telling me how he liked me posting inspirational stuff on Instagram, something I had been doing at the time. We hopped on the bus. I asked him where he was going; he said work and I said Church. The conversation spun off from there, and I shared how I’d started focusing on God above all else–how worshiping the Lord matters more than always making money–which is why I was on my way to church and had been posting inspirational content on Instagram.
When he knew me, my life revolved around money? I was always talking about money and how to make money and what new way I’d be able to make more money faster. Three years later on this bus ride, he told me that I had changed completely, that I was now just about the opposite of what I was before.
I can’t speak for him; I don’t know if our conversation had any real impact on him–if it was a real example of how Christ changes lives, or if it was just another thing he saw in his busy day–but I know it had an impact on me. This experience opened my eyes to how powerfully God has worked in my life. I literally wanted to start balling and worship the Lord on the TTC (which probably would have been the part that left a real impact on him). I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t seen myself through his eyes.
“He wanted to see time fly.”
It’s easy to see time fly by. It’s a lot harder to see the changes that occur across weeks, months, years, and decades.
And yet, as followers of Jesus, this is the sort of change we hope for. Jesus said that his disciples would be known by their love. We read in Galatians of the fruit of the spirit that is evident in the life of someone whose whole world has been changed by the grace of God. And 2 Corinthians tells us how radical this change is: “if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”
When we read these passages though, we can sometimes get scared. Maybe you’ve been a Christian as long as you can remember, and don’t have an incredible conversion experience to point to. Maybe you are all too aware of the addictions and brokenness’s that you still see in yourself and the world, despite giving as much faith as you have. Maybe it’s taken all you have just to just keep up with the breakneck mundanity of life, and looking back, you feel as if you haven’t moved in years.
But love is moving. Christ is alive and well, and the Spirit is awake in the world. If we’ve attached ourselves to Jesus, what does that say for us?
That Easter, as I stood in church singing Mighty to Save, tears started to drip down my cheeks. Don’t get me wrong; the song is good, but the tears really came because that morning I understood just how little I understood about how mightily God had saved me.
I can see a change from when I was greedy for money and wanted to keep it all towards myself. Now I’m giving more than I ever have. I still feel the price–I’ve had to cut down on some things–but it’s become so much easier to be generous.
And yet, I needed the reminder for that all to really hit home.
In this life, we can never know fully how much God is working in us. From our own vantage points, it’s like trying to look at your nose: you can see a little bit of either side at a time, but when you try to look at both sides you’ll just hurt your eyes, and unless you’re specifically thinking about it (like if you’re reading a blog post and the writer prompts you to try) you don’t even notice it’s there.
For others though, this change can be, well, as plain as the nose on your face.
James 1 reminds us that “anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues in it not forgetting what they have heard but doing it they will be blessed in what they do.”
At the risk of overextending James’ metaphor, if we are to look continually into “the perfect law that gives freedom,” it would follow that we would also need to be looking at ourselves to see where change is necessary, and where change is happening. And this sort of reflection requires an appropriate mirror.
Having someone else notice and point out a change is amazing, as it provides reassurance that you are growing, and courage, motivation and strength to continue your journey with God. It’s great to have experiences where you’re reminded just how far you have come–we can see the 2009/2019 Ten Year Challenge pictures that are cropping up all over as a more commonplace example of a similar sentiment.
Those experiences don’t come along all the time though, so we need to put ourselves in places of reflection.
We need to find ourselves circles of those who we can be accountable to, for the challenges and successes. We need to remember our growth as we pray, looking to see God glorified in what he has done for his children. And we need to take the opportunities to make these changes clear in the way we love our neighbours.
Moving forward I want the love that God shows me to be evident in my life, so as to show others that Christ lives within me. I personally think that our transformation from our old self to the new creation Christ has made us should be make others question “why are they like this? They seem different.”
As you show other people God’s love, and they begin to see changes in you, you can share that these transformations of your heart come from desire to follow Jesus and to honour God in your life. As you show others God’s love, I believe that it creates little openings where God’s light can shine through. Over time, the more someone is shown God’s love, the bigger that opening becomes, and in turn, even more light shines in.
So, like the boy in our joke earlier probably learned, it’s time to stop watching time fly. Let us instead watch love move–in, around, and through us. Let us be reflective both inwardly and outwardly.
Change is here, and he has a name.