This is part six of a six-part conversation about how God gives us enough time to finish our lives well, but just enough time. If you’d like to begin at the beginning… or if youwould rather, you can see the entire essay at barneywiget.com.]
Work till the sun goes down…
John 9:4 “As long as it’s day we must work the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work.”
In Jesus’ day when the sun went down they went to bed. They didn’t get cable in Galilee, so what was there to do at night but sleep? When they saw dusk arriving it was time to wrap up the day’s labor, eat supper, and take their rest. There was no working late at the office, so if you didn’t finish, you were out of luck, at least for the day.
Jesus used the twelve-hours of daylight as a metaphor for how much time his apprentices had with him onboard to show them how to do the work that God had assigned to them. For them, it was a matter of months, not years before he would leave them to the work. In our case, it’s our lifetime, however long it might be, that corresponds to the period of time the sun shines in one day. The bottom-line is, we don’t have much time to get our work done. Whether it’s days, months, or years; span of time here is limited.
The work to which he referred in their case was to make a blind man see. The disciples delayed the work with debate – “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” This is a favorite Christian delay tactic. We waste all kinds of time and energy with case studies where we treat people more like lab rats than ones stamped with the divine. We tend to be more concerned about the theological problem than our neighbor’s problem. We set up committees to analyze issues to death – “the paralysis of our analysis” – and often never get around to doing anything about them. If we’re not studying the problems of the world, we’re dissecting the Word, and never quite get the two (the world and the Word) close enough to each other for the one to impact the other. But Jesus came to solve problems, not study them. He spit, mixed it with earth, said, “We don’t have time for this!” and helped the man who was right in front of them listening to the debate about him.
I wonder if the time-consuming theologizing and analyzing belongs after, rather than instead of, meeting the needs of others. We could put on our suits and ties and argue causes for poverty or social disintegration, or we could put on our work clothes and do something about it. “It’s getting dark, guys! Do you want to talk about it, or fix it?”
I also wonder if Jesus used saliva-soaked mud for his miracle in order to take it even further out of the realm of explanations and theories. It just worked, and that’s all the man cared about when they interrogated him: “Who was he? Where did he go?” How it worked, why it worked, will it work again? He didn’t care. It worked! His focus was on the effectiveness of the work, not the method, the method that Jesus got from the Spirit at the time, I’m sure. In my opinion, another time-waster is what they call “strategic planning.” While there might be some merit to it, how we go about doing God’s work is not in the same universe of importance as that we do it!
The man’s testimony is well known, “All I know is, I used to be blind and lost, and now I’m not!” If you’re waiting till you know more before you’ll get to work for him, you might be waiting longer than you’ve got. In my experience, God tends to let us know more when we use what we already know.
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They say that when it’s all said and done there’s usually more said than done. I sincerely hope that in your case and mine, this won’t be true. I trust that we’ll do more than we say with the just enough time we have to do it.