Here is the monthly letter from the Clergy as it appears in the
February 2017 edition of St Nicolas Cranleigh Parish Church Magazine:
A Curate’s reflections
How are your New Year resolutions going?
We’ve come to that time when we are either full steam ahead with whatever we have promised to do or, more likely, we are struggling to remember what we actually said we would do.
Over the years I have promised myself that I will lose weight, get fit, study more, learn to sail, and learn to play the guitar, cello, piano and various other instruments. I’ve promised myself that I would do this and do that and, to be fair, I have been able to keep some of those promises but the vast majority I’ve let fall away for a number of reasons.
One of the main reasons I have not been able to keep many of my New Year resolutions is that I set unrealistic expectations upon what I had promised myself I would do; I mean, who knew that learning to play a guitar for example would take so much time or that a cello was so expensive and, learning to play, would take so much time. Then of course there is the time that we need to set aside to go to the gym, the time we need to go to the sailing club; in fact, to do almost anything new seemed to take so much time.
And time is one of those commodities that we seem never to have enough of, which is strange really as we seem to try very hard to save time, borrow time, spend time, we lose time and we find time, we make time but we never seem to have enough time.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, traditionally attributed to King Solomon and written towards the end of his life, there is a section that speaks specifically about time. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us that ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven’ and gives us a list of life’s events that have an impact upon us; Solomon is basically telling us that there is a time in life for everything.
And as Solomon’s legendary wisdom was a gift from God Himself, perhaps we need to remind ourselves that our time here on earth, however long that may be, is a gift from God Himself.
We sometimes complain that we never have enough time to do this or to do that, but do we stop and look at what we what we are actually doing?
Like an unrealistic New Year resolution, we sometimes have unrealistic expectations about what we should be doing and the timescale that we feel we should achieve it by. Then we perhaps succumb to disappointment when we fail to do everything that we say we will do.
Disappointment leads to self-blame. Self-blame leads to unhappiness, perhaps even a feeling of unworthiness because we have fallen for the misconception that we must always be busy and doing something.
And where did that misconception, that lie originate?
Well there’s a story that you might be familiar with, it tells us that Satan held a meeting with his top demons and told them of his plan to prevent faithful Christians from building a relationship with Christ.
Satan said “We can’t keep them from going to church or reading the bible and knowing the truth but we can stop them from forming a relationship with Christ, if they keep their connection with Jesus our power over them is broken”
Satan continues, “Let’s steal their time so that they cannot spend that time with Christ”
“Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life, tempt them to spend and borrow, convince them that they need to work all the time to maintain a certain lifestyle, better still, tempt them with a lifestyle that they think everyone else has and let them feel unworthy if they don’t have it themselves”
Keep them from spending time with their families, with their children, but don’t let them rest and spend time alone with God”
“Over stimulate them with busyness but let them think they must always be busy so that they don’t hear the still small voice of God in nature. Involve them in small talk and gossip when they worship so that their minds are elsewhere other than with God and let them leave their churches with troubled consciences and unsettled emotions”
“Don’t let them rest!”
“Let them be involved in soul winning. But crowd their lives with so many good causes that they have no time to seek power from Christ. Soon they will be working in their own strength, sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause…. And then they’ll begin to resent the work that they do and their strength will fail, their faith will fail their church will fail”
This is just a story, but I think that there is a grain of truth in there. If we fill our lives with unrealistic expectations of what we should be doing, even if it is for ‘the church’ and we convince ourselves that we are working for the Lord, but never actually spend time with the Lord, then what are we actually doing with our time?
And is what we are doing with our time actually damaging our relationship with Christ?
Christ has promised that he will always be with us, for all time. In Matthew 28:20 Christ tells us “…. and remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Christ is with us; He is with us right now. As I write this article, He is with me, as you read this sentence He is with you.
Every moment of every day, in every place that you go, He is with you.
He is there beside us, but are we so busy that we are ignoring our greatest friend, our Wonderful Counsellor, our Prince of Peace, our Lord and our Saviour?
So whatever your New Year resolutions might be, try making a resolution right now that is not unrealistic and is absolutely attainable; Take time to be with Christ every day, even if it means that you have to stop filling your lives with busyness, fill it instead with time spent with Christ.
Christ has already set aside time in eternity to be with you, so why not take the time to be with Him?
Rev’d Ian Maslin
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