I can’t find the time.
I whisper it into a sink of dishes, scrubbing away the remains of a messy day. Night descends outside the window, laundry still bobbing, now damp on the line. Bills pile up, toddlers melt down, responsibilities press in, and the hours slip away. Finding time for God seems harder than ever.
I used to have a regular “quiet time,” often first thing in the morning, the breakfast staple of a good devotional life. That was “time for God.” But now with needy little ones, that early morning is not so peaceful. How can I keep this God connection strong when I don’t have much quiet or time?
Some days it feels like a cut and paste game. What else can I rip out? Where can I fit God in? At the end of it all I am the toddler with the safety scissors and a pile of scraps. I am not good at making time.
But what if I didn’t have to make time for God? For too long I have been trying to patch Him into my chronos time, these fast and fleeting minutes strung one after the other, like clothespins on the line. But patches are not enough. I need something more binding.
God has already made time for us by giving us His eternal and abiding presence through Christ. “Lo, I am with you always.” It is always the right time to be with God. When I can’t “fit Him in,” I need to turn the clock to karios time, the “fitting time,” which is less about counting minutes for God and more about living each moment with God.
As my chronos time drains down the sink with a few stray spaghetti strands, I am reminded of Brother Lawrence, who was no stranger to the kitchen. A seventeenth century monk, he spent most of his time on kitchen patrol as chief cook and bottle washer at the Paris monastery where he lived. For him, monastic life wasn’t all silence and solitude. Much of his day was spent sweating over a hot stove, and the time he did spend in prayer and meditation was not more holy than the rest. He made it a habit to keep in continual conversation with God, being mindful of Him at all times, and to do everything, whether small or great, out of love for God. He called this practicing the presence of God. “‘The time of business,’ said he, ‘does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament.’”(1)
We are all too familiar with noise and clatter, whether from the kitchen or elsewhere. But God’s presence can be the eternal binding, the underlay to our lives that gives us constant access to His peace, joy and purpose. Like Brother Lawrence, we can train ourselves to slip into His reality no matter our surroundings. “[W]e need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him every moment…” (2) For God is not far away. He invites us to weave the threads of our lives into His presence, so that instead of carving out time for God we sew continually into time with God.
Every piece of fabric has its knots, the anchors that hold it all together when things are pulled tight and turned inside out. So, too, the fabric of our lives needs to be anchored in God through regular immersion in Scripture and prayer. There we begin a holy conversation which carries us through the day. I still need time with His Word. I still need times where I silence the commotion and seek God in prayer. These are what anchor me, but I do not leave Him when I get up off my knees.
By these I am knotted firmly in who He is, and by training myself to pay attention to His presence lying beneath the surface of my busy days, I see those openings in the fabric of the ordinary which pull me into an encounter with Him. When I emerge I bring Him with me, right in the middle of the pots and pans. Like a needle threading in and out, the more I enter into these kairos moments, the stronger I am bound to Him.
And so I am learning to put down my scissors and pick up the needle instead. When I can’t find the time, I can still find Him.
(1) Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God (Uhrichsville: Barbour Publishing, 2004), 30.
(2) Ibid., 25.
This post was originally published as an article, “Time for God or Time with God?” in Good Tidings magazine.