Monday, March 21, 2011

On Driving Buses

      I've been reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. It's written as satire, in the form of, yes, letters from Screwtape (a high-ranking minion in the underworld) to his nephew Wormwood, on the subject of how best to exploit human nature and deter man from the purpose of his loving Creator (referred to in the book as "the Enemy".)
     Let me tell ya, this tiny volume is not light reading! For example, in Chapter 21, "Screwtape" addresses the common misconception of man that his time is his own, something that really hit home with me.

"My Dear Wormwood,
...Now you will notice that nothing throws him [man] into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend's talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear...
...They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.
...The assumption which you want him to go on making is so absurd... 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 the moon as his chattels.
...The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged."
I've been dwelling on this idea for days now. Well, years, actually, since the concept first convicted me at a women's retreat: during a break-out session, one of the speakers presented the idea of "being submissive with your time" when God brings the unexpected to your plate.
 Submissive with MY time? I so often recoil when my plans are intruded upon.
 No, He gently reminds me, submissive with the time I've given you.
Last night, my mind refused to sleep as I pondered these things. I finally gave up trying, and at midnight found myself pondering further at the kitchen counter over a plate of nachos (the food of deep-things-pondering).

What He graciously gave me was an illustration to further help me wrap my mind around this. It's as though I'm a taxi driver. Going about my business, navigating the dance of the freeway, taking on passengers. Someone calls a cab. Do I roll my eyes in exasperation and finally, reluctantly, decide to answer the call and pull over to take on these passengers? Or do I rejoice in the fact that my mission is to take on passengers throughout the day, and that I now have the opportunity to be about that very business I set out for at the beginning of the day?
When those hypothetical cab calls come, will my answers be

"...well... I suppose if that's where you want to go I can take you there... (prolonged sigh)... with this vehicle that's not mine to begin with...with this time intended for this purpose...but really it is an inconvenience, you know..."


"Sure!" (while inwardly thinking "Why, oh, Why? Why now?!")

or will my answers be the stuff of "Yes!" and "Amen!"
"Yes! This is what I was created for! To serve you in this moment, and to serve HIM in doing so!"

Even better is the illustration of a bus driver. Did you know that the word "bus" comes from the word "omnibus," which comes from the Latin phrase meaning "for all"? For all. My time is not just mine, it is for whatever purpose God sets before me in that moment.

things go exactly as expected and planned,
plans entirely fall through,
plans get nudged this way or that,
or plans are overrided by the unexpected,
may my answer be "Yes!" and "Amen."

Oh, and hear this. I bought this Caedmon's Call CD back in High School, and although I LOVED (and still love) the album, this was one of my least favorite songs on it. I don't think I understood it until last night's nachos. Have a listen?

2 Corinthians 1:17-22
"When I planned this, did I do it lightly? Or do I make my plans in a worldly manner so that in the same breath I say, 'Yes, yes' and 'No, no'?  But as surely as God is faithful, our message to you is not 'Yes' and 'No.' For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by me and Silas and Timothy, was not 'Yes' and 'No,' but in him it has always been 'Yes.' For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ. And so through him the 'Amen' is spoken by us to the glory of God.  Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."



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