A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Brett Favre Meets St. Augustine-- As Time Goes By

Brett Favre has unretired for yet another time, signing with the Minnesota Vikings. He has been an incredible talent over the years and more than a few believe that he still has the stuff to continue as an effective quarterback. No one can get inside of Favre's head to know what his ultimate motives are for his indecisiveness in letting go of the game he loves. It could be just that-- he doesn't want to let go of the game he loves. It is also possible that Favre is hanging on to the past and fears moving into the future. We do not know if that is the case and I am not about to suggest for a moment that I am smart enough to know what he reflects upon in the silent moments of his life. But Favre's retirement, unretirement, retirement, unretirement saga has sparked some ponderments in me about the passing of time and life as it moves on so quickly, and where God is in the midst of it all.

I have always been fascinated by the concept of time. I remember when I was about sixteen years old or so, reading an article in Smithsonian Magazine about time. We really do not know how to define time. Einstein demonstrated that time is not a constant. If we could travel fast enough, the passage of time would slow down for those moving so quickly. Theologians have wrestled with understanding the concept of time-- the fifth century bishop and theologian, Augustine wrote on it and twentieth-century New Testament scholar, Oscar Cullmann made an attempt to understand it in relation to eternity. Whatever time is, we human beings are in it and we are apparently bound to it. God indeed transcends time, but we do not. What we seem to notice is not the movement of time (how does one notice that?), but the changes that take place over our lives-- the graying of the hair, the growing of our children, the arrival of grandchildren, the election of presidents, holidays celebrated... and then the next one a year later without someone who is no longer there "in time" to join the festivities.

I do not know what Brett Favre is facing in his private thoughts in reference to the truth that while he is still an incredible talent, there are other much younger quarterbacks out there who are a couple of steps faster, who have a little more stamina, and who are not as sore as he now is the day after a game. No doubt some of those "young turks" remind Favre of himself in younger days, but he cannot stave off the aging of his body, even though he may slow it down with regular exercise and a healthy diet. Neither can he avoid the fact that next year or the year after or even, perhaps, the year after that, he will no longer be able to play football... the game he loves. Time will have passed him by and he will be too old.

Yesterday, Carol and I went to the high school football field to watch our son, Jason perform in the marching band playing baritone. It didn't seem like too many years ago that Jason was quite young, toddling around the house and blowing loudly on a whistle in the house shattering our ear drums. Now he is out on the field playing beautifully and marching in step with the rhythm. Even though I am not sure what time is, I know that like my son on the football field, it marches on.

And I also know this-- the God who transcends time has chosen to enter our time for no other reason than in his love for us. In so doing, God has chosen to limit himself so that he can enjoy all the benefits of what it is like to be in relationship with his creation bound in time; so that he can rejoice in the wonderful surprises of our lives and so that he can also surround us in our unexpected sorrows. This is not some version of process theology which argues that God himself grows and changes and develops of over time, and that somehow God is intrinsically limited in his nature. Clearly not! Rather, my reading and study of the Bible over the years has convinced me that our relational God has chosen to be in genuine relationship with us, and that means nothing less than God's self-limiting in order for that relationship to be genuine in the passing of time. Of course, God remains sovereign, as if it were possible for him to relinquish that. How it is that God remains outside of time and yet gets into the mix of time and space is something I cannot begin to imagine nor explain; but the biblical writers seems to think that is what God has done.

And why should that thought surprise Christians? We believe that the supreme and ultimate divine invasion into our time and space has happened in Jesus Christ. To affirm that God has entered into time and space in a way that God may even willfully limit portions of God's knowledge is not a denial of the sovereignty of God; rather it highlights the sovereignty of our Lord who is in control and in charge, even though that same God chooses the limitations of time and space in order to be with us. St. Augustine writes, "God loves each and every one of us as if we are the only one to love." God cannot love us in this way without being right next to us in this time and in this space. The god of Deism is most unsatisfying.

We may not know what time is, but we need not fear it; for in all the times of our lives, God is with us. God is really and truly with us.

Thanks be to God!


doodlebugmom said...

I really thought a lot of Farve when he was playing for the Packers. He always seemed to have fun playing, he was a team leader, seemed like a good sport. But the retire, unretire saga....now I just feel like he likes the attention and his motives are revenge.

And yes, I am totally biased. I am a Packer fan. Grew up watching Bart Starr and cheered for them they were big losers.

I always pictured Farve coaching high school football somewhere in Mississippi after he retired. Not going to the Vikings.

Drenix said...

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