“Okay, God, here’s the deal. I know we were going to talk last night, but I got tied up with some homework and then some friends invited me over to watch ‘Planet Earth’—which is really just a celebration of your creation, right? Sort of like praying? And I was really tired when I got back to the dorms…
“And I know I missed church on Sunday too, and I had every intention of going to the night service, but I mean if someone’s just going to offer me basketball tickets, who am I to turn them down? So anyway, I know I’ve been slacking lately, but I promise I’ll get better… and by the way, could you help me on my midterms next week? And I’d really like to shake this cold. Thanks. Amen.”
Weeks around the middle of the semester, or the end of the semester, or important athletic events, or weeks where I travel, or even weeks that are just plain too normal to necessitate any sort of prayer—these are the weeks where I tend to relegate God to the back of my mind. It’s excellent that He’s up there hanging out in some higher eternally divine realm, but right now I’m down here, and I have a paper to write and a sonnet cycle to analyze and could He just wait until a dead week and then I’ll catch up on all that prayer? One could call Judgment Day the ultimate deadline. Right now “Essay Due March 3rd” seems more pressing. The Episcopalian in me just can’t get its mind around eschatology, but the perfectionist in me feels like midterms might be the end times.
I’m not convinced God is perturbed by my busier days when I fall asleep without praying or forget to thank Him at meals. I am convinced, however, that when I rush through life with God on the back burner I lose my own sense of grounding and inner peace. It doesn’t have to be long and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Simply thinking about God or thanking Him for anything at all shifts my world. Those midterms are still scary, but they are also in perspective when I remember to pray. When I go to God hastily, though—“Hey, I know we haven’t talked lately, but can you do me a favor, this runny nose is going to kill my weekend”—it doesn’t do much for laying a spiritual framework, and probably won’t heal that cold.
To paraphrase the parable, it’s hard for a rich man to get into heaven, but it’s also hard for a busy college student to feel heaven. I’m still working on sensing that relationship between what’s going on “up there” and what’s going on “down here.” Remembering God in all the confusion would be a good start and never fails to bring clarity. Something tells me He’s not falling for my excuses anyway.