I utter this phrase frequently. Usually I am engaged in something that has my full attention and one of my children is standing nearby saying something like "dad, dad, dad, daddy, daddy, dad...". My youngest son is particularly fond of doing this to both my bride and I. We've even teased him that if he doesn't stop we're going to start calling him Stewie. "Just a second, Austin!"
We all realize that when we say this we're not asking for, literally, one more second but however much time is needed to complete the task we are engaged in be it tens of seconds, minutes, or more. In fact, "just a second" seems a bit of a misleading and untruthful phrase because who can accomplish or finish anything in a second? Try it. Without reading past this sentence, think of things you can do in one second's span of time. I'm guessing your list, like mine, is short.
Here are a few I came up with:
take a breath
turn my head
snap my fingers
count to one
Not enough time to do much more, at least not in my perception. But perception is everything isn't it. What if I told you insects and snails have more than enough time in one second. Follow me down the rabbit hole...
A second is all it takes for a bullet to travel 900 meters (over 1/2 mile) and penetrate its target.
In a second, a snail will dance to the side or forward one centimeter to avoid a rain drop.
A honeybee flaps its wings 200+ times in that same second.
Every second, 79 stars vanish from space. Implosion, explosion?
Our sun floods this earth with 48.6 billion kilowatts of energy every second.
Every second, the populace of this planet consumes 1500 gallons of carbonated drinks.
418 Kit-Kat fingers (4 fingers to a bar) are consumed around the world every second.
Suddenly a second seems quite active, doesn't it? I find humor in our drink and Kit-Kat consumption rates, but I am astounded at the raw quantities of energy our star is continually roaring through 90+ million miles towards our world with. In an instant dozens of suns the size of ours, some smaller, some hundreds of times larger, regularly vanish from our sight and instrumentation. In a moment, a projectile hurtles towards its target over 2600 feet away. My mind has trouble wrapping around these numbers. Not even included is the millions of times elemental atoms vibrate per second.
In scripture you won't find the word "second" as a frame of reference for the passage of time. The idea of breaking days and hours into smaller components existed but our refinements of clocks, weights, and measures did not. Rather you will find phrases like "moment", "at that hour (meaning instantly)", and "in the twinkling of an eye (also meaning near instantly)". God exists outside the linear time that we are bound by. Yet he still operates within it though he is not limited by it.
Some examples: listen to God speaking of the nation of Israel after they have been in rebellion and come in repentance back to him.
For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you." Exodus 33:5
God would have obliterated millions of people in their sinful state in just a second - simply by the nature of who he is and what sin is in his presence. Our God is a holy, holy God.
In Matthew we learn of a woman who had exhausted all of her resources over many years going from one physician to the next with a blood illness that was gradually wasting her away. With amazing faith she reaches out.
She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her. “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.
The word for "moment" here denotes an instant changing of state from what was to what currently is. It took just a second.
Again in Matthew, we learn of another woman of faith convinced that her daughter would be healed. So much so that she wouldn't leave Jesus alone.
Then Jesus said to her, "Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted." And her daughter was healed at that moment.
In a similar timeframe history was upended, the earth upheaved and all of creation breathed a sigh of sorrow.
And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life.
Our relationship with our Heavenly Father was forever altered in just a second.
But what if Jesus had said "Just a second"? What if Jesus, busy as he usually was, told the woman with the daughter, "Just give me a minute"? This is a guy who typically had a throng of people around him, all clamoring for his attention; all looking for him to meet their needs. Wouldn't it be within his right to say "Just wait a sec" once and awhile"? We don't read that do we? We read of a man who was fully engaged, fully available, fully compassionate.
I fail at this regularly and I'm not even talking about at work or on the street. I can become so engrossed in the inconsequential that I easily shoo off my own child who simply wants to tell me that they put the toilet paper on the roller when they were finished in the bathroom like they were supposed to. Life changing knowledge? Not really. An opportunity to build up my child and strengthen my relationship with them? Golden - I should be so lucky to have these so often. The infusion of worth and value is the one of the most precious gifts we can give another.
Too often we take for granted and miss these opportunities in our homes, in our places of work, in the world around us because we are honed in on the tasks and priorities that we feel are most important, all the while losing out on the highest of priorities that Jesus boiled down to two little statements. Love God with everything in you. Love neighbor as self. To walk these out will change the world in which you walk and God will open door after door for you to be his light in darkness.
It is his desire for us to become the means by which lives are changed. But it requires a willingness to become uncomfortable. It is not always comfortable to rub shoulders with the homeless. It is not always comfortable to take in the orphan or the foster child. It is not always comfortable to listen to the co-worker lamenting over their problems. Love is not always comfortable. My bride came up with the phrase "messy love" and it is an accurate depiction of what we are called to walk out. Rarely is it convenient, and rarely is it along the same path we were planning on traveling.
But often, it starts with giving just a second...