This morning when I got up at my usual 6.15 a.m. my teenage son was already awake. This is unusual. Normally, he remains in bed until lunchtime. But in an attempt (whether wise, or other-wise) to re-set his broken body clock, he had stayed up all night. And now he decided to make pancakes for breakfast.
He is a good cook, but a slow one. And so, on the offer of pancakes, I passed on my habitual bowl of cereal and waited. And waited. And a little after 8.00 a.m. I sat down to a substantial plate of pancakes. (Too late for Jo, who has to set off on her commute to work by 8.00 a.m.)
My son’s gift to me today was not only—not even primarily—pancakes, but, rather, the invitation to rediscover what children know and have squeezed out of them: that things take as long as they take.
I’m not saying we can ignore the clock. I have agreed to take a funeral at 12.15 p.m. today, and I cannot turn up at 2.00 p.m. and say, “Hey, I’m here now, that’s just how long it took.” Moreover, there is genuine benefit in regular rhythms—the very thing my son is trying to re-set and re-establish with his sleep. Be that as it may, we do violence to ourselves, to the essence of our very being, and to the personhood of others, when we try to conform the world to a divided- and divided-up diary schedule. This must happen at such an hour, and be done by such a time. This church community must look different in this and this and that ways within such and such a timescale.
What God is up to in the world takes place in God’s sweet time. It takes as long as it takes. It is gift. Perhaps not the gift we want, but something even better than we could ask for or imagine.