My times are in your hands… Psalm 31:15
Have you noticed how strategically God treats time throughout the Bible—and our lives? In the West, we tend to think of time as something we control and as a commodity we can save or dispense or use as we see fit. To the contrary, the psalmist says that God has time in his hands. Once again, we’re called to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over all things. Even time.
We’re often reminded at memorial services of that excellent writing by Solomon:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
Essentially, God has a schedule and time for everything that was, that is, and that will come. Throughout Scripture, God used prophets to speak promises of things to come according to his timing. Then, as now, he was working through the circumstances to prepare his people for fulfillment and for his coming. The role of his children has always been to be faithful during the intervening period; to walk in obedience; to do all to his glory; and to live in expectation.
What happens when we get out of sync with God and revert to our own timetables? (By the way, have you ever noticed the way we always use the possessive “my” when we talk of time—“my” time?) Look at Jacob who tricked Esau into surrendering his birthright rather than waiting on God’s timing (Genesis 26:37-27:45). Aaron tired of waiting on Moses and created a golden calf for the people to worship (Exodus 32:1-35). Saul got impatient waiting for the Prophet Samuel and offered the sacrifice that only the priest was commissioned to do (I Samuel 13:9). There are others, but I wonder if Judas was one of them? Was he tired of waiting for Jesus to reveal himself as the Messiah? We know the disasters that occurred when these men didn’t wait for God’s timing.
Apparently, God values waiting in the making of his saints. Being patient is not something that comes naturally. In fact, it seems that we are inherently impatient. Slipping through yellow lights; counting the minutes waiting in line; incessantly checking the clock… Perhaps that’s why God made provision for patience to grow in us as his Spirit becomes dominant. There’s no sense in trying to achieve patience without God’s help. We want what we want NOW. My African friends say, “You Americans have watches. We have time.”
God has time. He’s never too quick, and he’s never late. He makes things work together, and “in the fullness of time,” his time, his timetable, all things work together. When he sees that we are ready; when the world is ready; when the circumstances are just right.
At this Christmas time when all Christendom celebrates the coming of the Christ child, let us give ourselves anew to God’s sovereignty in our lives, to his complete control in all circumstances, and to trust in his unconditional, unchanging love. And let us give up the idea that time is “ours” so that God may go about his work in his way, in his time.
Father, do all things according to your wisdom. We trust, and we wait. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.