by Donna Chacko
Finite vs. Infinite: What does the mismatch of our timeline with God’s have to do with knowing God’s will during the Covid-19 crisis?
My husband, Wilbur, and I were reflecting on what the Covid-19 crisis might mean for the world. Could there be a message from God hidden amidst the suffering and uncertainty of the pandemic?
I quipped that God could certainly come up with a more clear way to communicate with us than a pandemic.
Wilbur looked at me and finally spoke. “Well, God’s message is clear, but it is spread out over His timeline, not ours.” Of course, we know our timeline is finite, while God’s dimension of time is infinite, with His past, present, and future merged in some mysterious way. Wilbur’s point was that this mismatch of our timelines with God’s prevents us from seeing the whole of God’s message.
How can that system of communication possibly work? While we are living out our own finite allowance of years, Jesus is always with us, offering His tender embrace and His Word. Unfortunately, we are usually too busy to sit still for that embrace. I recognize that for years I grasped and tugged to manipulate my timeline. I urgently needed to fill each moment to prepare for a future I thought I controlled. I had no time for a quiet moment with my God, a precious moment when I might have heard His Word.
To know God’s will, we need to slow down, embrace the present moment, and listen. Even then we usually don’t hear explicit instructions. We get snatches, maybe only a hint or a nudge. But, the more we surrender ourselves to His Divine Presence, the more clearly we will know His holy will. As we relinquish control of our timeline and our will, we become closer and closer to God. When we die, our timeline becomes God’s infinite timeline and all becomes clear. I like to think this merger of timelines begins when we start celebrating each sacred moment as a gift from God.
One of my favorite books is “Sacrament of the Present Moment,” written in the 18th century by Jean-Pierre de Caussade. In this slim classic, de Caussade shows us how to experience each moment as a sacrament. He tenderly describes how God’s divine action fills each precious moment. We just have to say yes to the moment, listen, and then rest with absolute confidence—knowing we are indeed following God’s holy will. Even if we don’t hear an explicit message, we can still follow God’s holy will by surrendering our time to Him, moment by moment.
This is not so easy. If you are like me, even with de Caussade’s comforting words, you sometimes may still feel confused. That’s when I turn to Thomas Merton’s amazing prayer:
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
So, what is God’s will for you and me during the Covid-19 crisis? I think He just wants us to trust Him, one moment at a time.
God bless everyone. I pray you and your families are OK and staying close to the Lord.
Here is the link for Sacrament of the Present Moment on Amazon.