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.


But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. II Peter 3:8


Ugandans have a wonderful expression, “slowly by slowly,” which we would probably translate, “little by little.” I, personally, prefer slowly by slowly, especially when I’m waiting for something to transpire. When it doesn’t happen within my timeframe, the days and weeks can drag on and on. The image of time as a snail precisely expresses my attitude as I wait for God’s intervention.


The faith walk can be described quite accurately as “slowly by slowly.” God gives us a word or direction, and we can often expect fulfillment just around the corner. Truth is frequently just the opposite. And sometimes it may seem that God doesn’t respond at all to our cries.


God promised Abraham a son; he waited twenty-five years for Isaac’s birth. Joseph dreamed of ruling; the reality occurred about thirteen years after his kidnapping. The Children of Israel were told they’d be returning to Canaan; after 400 years of slavery and then forty more years of wandering, they finally reached their homeland.


The people of Israel believed for centuries that God would send a Messiah, but for so many, that promise was never fulfilled because Jesus came in a form and with a mission they couldn’t accept. Paul strongly desired to go to Rome. That wish was granted, but Paul made his journey as the Empire’s prisoner. God is sovereign.


God’s promises are true, and he is faithful, but he doesn’t operate in our timeframe or according to our human schemes. The distance between promise/prayer and fulfillment/response is determined by God’s wisdom. We may mentally acquiesce that “his ways are higher than our ways” (Isa. 55:9), but we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with disappointment when his time and methods don’t concur with ours.


Walking by faith is just that. God speaks a prayer to our hearts or a word to our spirits and then asks us to trust him for its fulfillment. We pray for perfect healing; God answers by taking our loved one to perfect health in heaven. We ask for a loan; God gives us a grant. We ask for more grace in a difficult relationship; God removes that person from our lives. We ask that God does whatever is needed to bring someone to himself; God answers in ways we’d never imagined.


Slowly by slowly, step by painful step, through dark and perilous passages God asks us to trust his profound love and to walk with him. He asks us to trust that all his plans for us are good and that all things will work together for good (Jer. 29:11, Rom. 8:28). And while we lean and trust, we learn and grow. We shed much of our self-assurance and those selfish attitudes that lead us to trust ourselves more than our loving Father who is using delays and his methods to make us more and more like him and more and more dependent on him.


“My times are in your hands” (Psa. 31:15). Give him time to work out his perfect plan. God is never too slow and never late.


Father, strengthen our faith and help us to walk confidently with you even when we don’t understand your timing and your ways. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.


…making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Ephesians 5:1  (ESV)


Summer is just around the corner, and I so look forward to it.  Even though I’ve been out of school for a while now, I still mentally organize my days by the school calendar:  For me, the year begins in September, and the end of May brings the summer vacation.  All of us tend to consciously or unconsciously arrange our days according to a system of our own devising.

What do you do with your time?  Some of us work, but all of us have time that is free to allocate according to our priorities.  Time is a valuable commodity.  In fact, we have a number of sayings relating to time:  Time is money.  Don’t waste time.  I need to make up for lost time. Time flies. Time heals all wounds.  And so on…

Have you ever thought of giving God your time?  The Psalmist said, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).  Whatever we do in the next twenty-four hours, time will pass.  If we use that time for good, it will be invested.  If we use it for ill, it will be lost.  If we use it foolishly, it will be wasted.

So here we are at the beginning of the summer season when 60% of Americans take time off work for vacation.  How will you spend your “free” time this summer?  In September, will you be able to look back with joy at the investment you’ve made in a life, in your family, in your community, in the Kingdom?  No matter what you do, the time will have passed.

Make plans now for how you will invest your time this summer.  To paraphrase another old saying, “Only this time, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”



Father, here we are at the outset of another period of great potential.  Help us to wisely number our days and seek your direction for how best to use them to your glory and our highest good.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”  Luke 2:10  (NIV)



What must those humble shepherds have thought when they heard the angels proclaiming joy for everyone?  Did that include them, even them?  Did they anticipate freedom from Rome?  Perhaps relief from their hardships and marginalization?  How did those shepherds define joy?

As part of that vast throng to whom the message of joy applies, how do we today characterize joy?  Is joy a permanent fix for chronic physical suffering?  Is it the mending of broken hearts?  Is it the realization of a dream that has long eluded us?  How do we define joy?

We know that joy is distinguished from happiness, which is dependent on circumstances.  Joy is not temporary; it’s not based on emotions, relationships, or things; and it’s not egocentric.  Joy can’t be intimidated.  It is a gift from God and is a fruit of the Spirit.  We don’t produce joy; God causes it to grow in us as we love, obey, and abide in him.

This abiding in him in which our heart is turned to him produces that joy that strengthens and empowers us in all circumstances when happiness would abandon.  While happiness seduces us to look inward, constantly measuring personal satisfaction and comfort, joy opens our eyes to the eternal and God’s perspective of our world.  We see his hand, his care, his love, his provision, his opportunity, and so on rather than time-bound circumstances.

On our recent trip to Uganda, we took time to visit the Martyr’s Shrine that honors 45 Christians who died in the late 20th Century when they acknowledged a King greater than the Kabaka (tribal king).  The young men refused to abandon their faith even when threatened with death.   Some were dragged, others experienced amputation of extremities, and still others were disemboweled.  Those brave Christians were next wrapped all around with sticks and then roasted on a huge fire.  For some it took three days to die.

So what does this have to do with joy?  Those young men are not honored every June 3 on Martyr’s Day simply because they would not denounce Jesus Christ or their faith in him.  The eyewitnesses who watched them suffer said that they all died while singing hymns of praise to their King.  Joy cannot be extinguished by earthly devices.  Perhaps they each experienced that Fourth Man in the fire (Daniel 3:25) who graced them with joy that overcame all pain.

The angel’s message of joy to the world is the gift of Jesus in whose presence is fullness of joy; at his right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11).  REAL, never-ending joy that lasts forever.


Father, we are so easily satisfied with temporary, superficial things.  Awaken us to the eternal riches that are found only in you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.


My times are in your hands.  Psalm 31:15  (NIV).


My graduate advisor was a time management consultant.  He gave us so many helpful ideas about time, but there are two things that really stuck with me.  First, time is an equal opportunity commodity—everyone has exactly the same amount, no more and no less.  Secondly, we cannot manage time; we manage ourselves in relation to time.  So these two little truisms pull the rug out from under our excuses for procrastination:  I just didn’t have time or I’ll do it when I find the time.  As if someone else has more time than we do…

Typically in our church year, we are called to look at those resources of which we are stewards:  time, talent, treasure.  Curiously, we seem to understand that talent and treasure are God’s, and we are his stewards.  But when it comes to time, we take ownership and thoughtlessly speak of my time and parse the way we expend this trust.  We guard our time and dare anyone to impose on it.  Even God should not presume to infringe of this personal possession.

So we spend our time indulging ourselves in whatever manner we choose, but it really doesn’t matter how innocuous the activity if it diminishes God’s calling on our lives.  We can spend hours in mindless personal entertainment (as opposed to re-creation) and feel empty and restless rather than refreshed and satisfied.  Or we can daily, prayerfully ask God how we should expend the moments and hours he’s given us for his purposes.  While we all have the same amount of time allotted, that time is finite and can joyously be invested in his Kingdom for eternal purposes.

What if we were to dedicate time to God as intentionally as we give him the talent and treasure he’s entrusted to us?  Would we stop guarding it and daring people to infringe upon it?  Might we find, just as treasure tends to be, that it is multiplied even as we freely commit it to our heavenly Father to use as he pleases?

I think it’s worth a try.


Father, at the start of this day, we commit these next twenty-four hours to you to use for your glory.  Give us the discipline to embrace and prioritize our responsibilities, enjoy the leisure you provide, and not waste a single minute of your precious gift. In all that we do, help us to glorify you.  In Jesus’ name.  AMEN.



My times are in your hands…  Psalm 31:15 (NIV)


When I was newly-returned to university, I struggled to balance parenting, two jobs, and college requirements.  It took all the energy and grace I had to address each responsibility in a fairly adequate manner and still ensure my own spiritual and mental health.


And then one of my children had a minor crisis in school – just as I was preparing for a mid-term exam.  I worked with elementary teachers to resolve the issue, and then I spoke to my university professor.  I wanted to see if my mid-term could be delayed a while so that I could take these challenges one at a time.  That made perfect sense to me.


She said something I’ve never forgotten.  “Marthe, you will find that life doesn’t stop to make allowances for crises.  There are no convenient times for problems.  It all flows together.  It’s up to you to handle everything as it comes.  She didn’t tell me how to do it, but essentially she was saying that I couldn’t postpone the exam until I was ready, and that I wouldn’t be able to slow down time for my convenience.


This was possibly one of the best lessons I learned in that Early Childhood Development class.  Life comes at you fast, and the only way we can stay poised and at peace with the stresses that make up every single day is to invite Christ into every situation.  We ask for his guidance, wisdom, and grace.  We ask for help in prioritizing the issues.  And it works.  We can’t manage or control the circumstances that intrude into our lives, but with Christ’s help, we can manage ourselves with regards to the circumstances. It works.


Thank you very much, Dr. Waldron.


Sweet Lord, you see the end from the beginning, and nothing ever takes you by surprise.  Help us to remember that if we’ve asked you to be Lord, we must act accordingly. Forgive us if we complain about the overload.  You know exactly what we can bear and are there to carry the load when we can’t.  Thank you.  AMEN.