Is it possible that our calendar is a cathedral? Our priorities & actions a place to encounter the divine?
Our calendar tells a story: it tells a story of priorities, people, and unavoidable expectations. The multicolored boxes or cursive placeholders are, in fact, life. I write this sitting the parking lot of a restaurant, 15 minutes early for a morning meeting. A notification pops up on my screen reminding me that in just a few minutes, I’ll sit down with a friend over coffee and omelets and talk about life.
Our spaces of”committed time” are containers for the execution of our lives. More than that, our calendars are a place that God inhabits – a place of divine encounter, if you will.
The Challenge of the Calendar
We often look at responsibilities and schedules as burdens. We see the onward rush of a week and we feel helpless. The pull of a strong oceanic current drags us from Monday through Saturday, only to reload on Sunday for a repeat performance.
Of course there are times when we must lay down our conductor’s baton and let the music of a week play on. We release control a family member is ill, in a season demanding season of work, or when our kids are struggling in school.
Even in these moments, however, there is also the hovering Spirit of God, attending to us as we try to maintain our bearings. What if there was a way for us to have a conversation with God within the context of our calendar?
Our life will move towards God through the moments in our lives where we create space for Him.
I’ve found several critical questions that help me encounter the Divine in the midst of the daily tasks. My hope is that they’re helpful to you as well.
What are my priorities?
The first question that we bring to looking at divine moments in our calendar is the question of priorities. “What matters most” includes the things that we’d do regardless of what we have to give up. Also included are the things that we must do or else there will be life-hindering consequences.
Recently, I was thinking about the flow of my week and I wrote the phrase: “Stop giving expensive time to cheap things.” Of course, this doesn’t mean that I don’t do cheap things from time to time – YouTube, I’m looking at you – but I have to assess whether the cost of my time is being invested wisely at the moment.
The life we live with God often rises and falls on where we place our priorities. The intentional ordering of moments, days, and weeks around immersion in the Divine is critical. The giants of faith – from ages past or shuffling past us at the grocery store – have all made a choice to order themselves towards God.
The conversation begins with priorities. In reality, we have enough hours in every day for the things that matter most.
What is out of my control?I have had times where I felt like life was beyond my reach. Obligations had been set for me, cars breaking down, a child with a cold, shuffling work schedules like a Vegas blackjack dealer. There ARE parts beyond our reach like what I’ve mentioned above, but the parts that are WITHIN our reach we’ve placed in the wrong category.
For many of us, what time we go to bed and get up are well within our control. If not both, then one of the two. I have found my best time in the early morning before others in my house stir for the day. It is time within my control for the most part: time for exercise, quiet prayer, thinking through the day that is to come I can use this space to establish a balanced, unhurried approach to the day so that I feel grounded going into the swirl of the calendar.
God is not partial to early risers or night owls – both can set a time to engage with Him and He will always show up.
The same principle works for later in the evening as well – perhaps we set aside Netflix for a moment to make space for something else? We can use that time to invest in the thing we have said is “most important” but we rarely have time for.
One controlled time is travel: if you have a commute to work in the morning, or home in the afternoon, you have a space and time that you can control. Perhaps you listen to a podcast that challenges and inspires you (perhaps this one)? What if you repeated the Lord’s Prayer as you drove? What if you took that time to look at the day and see where you noticed God’s presence?
Where do I find myself in the day?
Moment in every day to think about identity, relationship, and rest. The most helpful and holy element of a divine encounter with our calendar is grace. There will be days when we do not handle the calendar spaces with grace.
In fact, yesterday I completely failed at investing “expensive time” in cheap things. The wallpaper on my computer says “Punch Today In the Face”. While that might seem odd to a nonviolent writer in Christian spiritual formation, the point is to motivate me. When I invest the calendar wisely, I feel like I’ve taken the “best” of the day.
Yesterday was a flaming dumpster fire. I confess.
Grace is important here because all journeys with God are journeys of progression, not perfection.
We have to show ourselves grace because whether we waste our time or not, we are Beloved (1 John 3:1). No priority mismanagement or wasted time will change that. Instead, grace accepts us as we are. Grace accepts us while also moving us toward a healthier encounter with God in the midst of our days.
So as you look at the calendar for tomorrow, what priorities do you see? Where are some spaces you can control? How much grace do you need for today’s dumpster fires and tomorrow’s opportunities to seize the day with God?