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The Art of Faith

In Art, Life in Society on October 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

A Day is Like a Thousand Years and A Thousand Years Like a Day*

By Laura Senti

Usually when I hear someone say that God is working things out, or that God operates on a different sense of time, I think, “Yes, God is slow.” I’m even a little patronizing: “Be patient, it takes God awhile to get things done.” If I’m feeling frightened or doubtful I think he is inactive, and “his own time” means “He’s paying no attention and is absent from the scene.”

My life seems to me to be eerily still lately. I want something new to come along. I’m struggling to see what is next for me. I crave a stronger sense of direction and purpose, yet the days and months pass on in much the same way as before. I watch what I perceive to be dynamic action and movement in others’ lives and wonder if God stuck me on a shelf in a rarely-opened closet.

It seems to me that God is slower than me.

But what if he is in fact, being lightning fast and I’m the slow one? We know that time is relative. Speed is relative, too.

What got me thinking about this was watching the SlowMo guys on YouTube. One of my favorite clips is Lloyd the Cat jumping to the top of a tall fence. At 2500 frames per second—100 times slower than we normally see–I could see the unfolding miniscule movements of the spring, the boost midway up the fence, the light landing on top. A cat in motion is power personified, a beautiful thing to watch.

All the frames together add up to a beautiful tableau, but what if I could see only one frame per hour? Might I lose interest and forget that the cat is in fact, in the midst of that energetic jump to the top of the fence? And what if I didn’t even know, to begin with, what I was seeing, and just saw one frame out of context? I don’t think it would be that riveting; it’s the fluidity of the action, the succession of frames, that gives meaning to each individual frame.

I am impressed by quick changes, quick growth: explosions, that experiment in high school science that suddenly changes the color of the solution; the factories and machines that pop out products and whip through tasks. Why am I so impressed by fast? Maybe because that’s what I can see most easily in our human time. But the deeper, more fundamental time frame is God’s.

If in the physical realm I miss so much and see so coarsely unless events are slowed way down, might this also be the case in the spiritual realm? Maybe our sense of time is actually slow motion. We see things unfold bit by bit, assuming that we’re perceiving time as real. But what if God’s time is real time? He’s doing countless amazing things millisecond by millisecond, whereas in human time that translates into day by day, month by month, year by year. His time frame is so much bigger, that we have to have faith to believe change and growth is actually occurring.

So in the midst of this time in my life when I perceive God to be excruciatingly slow, He is actually in the middle of his usual giant, slow-motion-to-me action, one that I don’t yet know and never will fully know because it’s so grand and complex, involving far more than just me. Maybe the cat is only poised at the bottom of the fence, so I’m not noticing any movement yet. I am seeing one frame, maybe two, on this still September day in His lightning-speed, dense movement, specially slowed down for human minds to watch, wonder and savor.

I’ll trust that He’s up to something good.

*2 Peter 3.8

Running horse

Photo by Roger Brown
Running Horse