God in the Gaps

The phrase “God of the Gaps” refers to poor argumentation for the existence of the Supreme Being.  There is a gap in our ability to explain things so we use God to explain what we have not been able to so far.

This poor form of apologetics got me to thinking about the gaps not in our logic but in our lives.

We often complain that we don’t have any free time.  At least, I know that is the case for me.  This coming year I will be adding to my course load and extracurriculars by taking over the drama department.  In addition to this I recently joined the Knights of Columbus as a Second Order and hope to become more involved in charity.  So I predict that this coming year will be busier than ever.

But if I’m really honest, I actually have lots and lots of time, just not in the large chunks that I would like.  Have you ever thought about a large project that needed to be done, but when you calculated your time needed against the time available, you cast the project aside?  I do that all the time.  

Yet throughout the day, I’ll have lots of little free moments.  Sometimes I am so free I literally do nothing.  By nothing, I mean nothing, not even sleep.  I might just stand there and stare at something, maybe the microwave, maybe a picture on the wall, while not thinking about anything in particular.  It’s like my life hit pause for a moment.

Granted these moments aren’t long, but they’re there.  It could be between classes or while driving that there is an air of emptiness.  These are the little gaps of life.  And they can be filled.

Christ told the parable of the demons: 

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.” (Matt 12:43-45)

It is not enough to have lives free from vice, they must be filled with virtue.  The old saying “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings” has some truth to it.  Diligent work leaves less time for many temptation.  And even though we usually can’t get into too much trouble during our little life gaps, we run the risk of waste.  Time is life.  We only have a limited amount of grains in our great hourglass.  Each one that passes is one that we will never get back.  Each moment is precious.

Now, I am not saying that we must fill every single second of our lives with activity.  God recognized from the very beginning that man would need a sabbath from his labors.  But these gaps don’t necessarily give rest and refreshment, they simply tick by the seconds until we come to our next activity.  

But why not fill the gaps with God?

On my very first day of work as a teacher, I was so very nervous.  On the drive in, when I would usually just listen to the car stereo, I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.  I came to realize that this was a time that was being spent to no advantage.  While driving I was killing time.  It was a life gap.  But now I have filled it with time asking God for mercy on my life, my students’ lives, and the lives of everyone in the whole world.  And I have done so every drive to work for the past 14 years.

I was standing in line for some Japanese food at the mall’s food court.  The line was long and there was no one to talk to (and I had maxed out my lives on Candy Crush).  So instead of turning off my mind, I spent a few moments in prayer, reflecting on God’s goodness that I had the money and freedom to come to the mall and buy Japanese food.  I could take a moment and pray for those who did not have access to the bread of earth or were cut off from the Bread of Heaven.

And the gaps are not just in time, but space.  I think one of the reasons that the Catholic Church has been such a patron of the arts over the centuries is that She knows that human beings need to have their senses enlivened.  Yes, there are the great spiritual ones that live lives of stoic asceticism, but most of us, including myself, are spiritually weak.  I need all the help I can get.

By surrounding my life with Christian art, Christian music, Christian jewelry, etc, I have constantly before my eyes, ears, and hands reminders of God’s presence.  While sitting on the couch, I look down and for a moment notice my crucifix and it draws the gap in my attention for a moment back to Christ.  I play Christian music in the background of my life, and every so often I will be caught up out of my gap to raise my heart and maybe my voice to the Lord.

The things we see and hear affect us even when we don’t realize it.  The more we are soaked by the sensation of Christianity, we have a greater chance of letting Christ sink in.

And what will happen is that the more you fill in the gaps of your life with God, the more habitual it will become.  And those dead times of the day will instead spring with life.  Those quiet moments will not be sources of boredom but causes of joy.

That is what will happen if you let God in the gaps.

Copyright 2014, W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

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