What time is it?
Of all the blogs to procrastinate over, this one shouldn’t have been it – God’s timing! The intention was to write about God’s timing two weeks ago, but I didn’t. And now I wonder if what might have been, now might never be! I understand God is sovereign and that he knows the future, and I also know that I am disobedient. Even though God knew that I wouldn’t write this blog until today, He asked me to write it two weeks ago. How much has my delay in writing misplaced God’s perfect order?
God’s perfect order is inserted into our timeline. “He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also set eternity in their heart, yet so that man will not find out the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). He calls us to have an awareness of His bigger plan of eternity, for all people, even though our reality exists only in the narrowness of any given moment. Time - a real boundary that God created - impinges on our day-to-day lives, on our activities, on our decisions, and on our interactions with one another. We see only a sliver of our own lives, and even less of others,’ and we are unable to appreciate the fullness of God’s handling of eternity (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
Some of the most impactful events in the bible have the loudest timestamps: “In the beginning” “there was evening and there was morning the first day” (Genesis 1:5), “Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners” (Matthew 26:45) “he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:4).
God has ordained each one of us for a purpose - His purpose. “Your eyes saw my unformed body; all my days were written in Your book and ordained for me before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:16). The world-wide network of Christians, the Church, is called to follow God, under His Lordship. He orchestrates, and we are all supposed to move along in harmony as one body.
Only we don’t!
We piecemeal our lives outside of The Body, and move as our limited world view dictates, morphed by our irrational fears, our selfish desires, our rational inadequacies, all meshed together and then acted out in our own timing.
God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and that they would have to be removed from the Garden, but that didn’t stop Him from putting them in the garden in the first place. He put them there, gave them rules, and gave them free will to either obey or disobey – they disobeyed and here we all are, now living in a fallen world. Adam and Eve’s sin pierced the timeline to trickle down the ages to effect all of us. What if they didn’t sin? What if they obeyed all the rules that God issued? How would their actions thousands of years ago have shaped my life today? Maybe my garden would be beautiful.
What if I wrote this blog when I was supposed to? Maybe someone needed to hear the message of actioning in God’s timing two weeks ago – maybe that would have spurred them to take the train, mail the check, or raise a hand. You and I have rippling effects on earth – for better or for worse - and this includes not just what we do, but when we do it: A word spoken at the right time is like fruit of gold set in silver (Proverbs 25:11). The corollary of this being, a word spoken at the wrong time, is not like fruit of gold!! Perhaps the chance to raise a hand has been lost, never to return again; like a life designed to be lived out in the garden of paradise, but is instead toiling in a world overcome with thorns.
Knowing when to move versus when to stay can be the difference between success and failure, life and death. In King David’s life, there was one day where the Lord’s timing would have had him on the battlefield (2 Samuel 11:1), but David didn’t take the time to fight that day – he stayed at home, and this great man of God revealed his fallen humanity (2 Samuel 11:1-4). There is a time to go out and fight, and a time to stay at home (Ecclesiastes 3:8). There is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1); a time for working hard, and a time to rest (Genesis 2:2), a time for weeping and a time for laughing (Ecclesiastes 3:4), a time to be silent and a time to speak (Ecclesiastes 3:7). God knows the perfect timing and calls us to be ready to align our hearts, our thoughts, and our actions into His timing (I Peter 3:15; Matthew 25:13). What time is it?
The two criminals on the cross were witnessed to by Christ at precisely the same moment. One understood that the time for repentance was here, the other did not realize what time it was; one was saved, the other was not. What time is it?
Surrendering a Christian life to God entails surrendering not just what we do with life, but when we do life. When a disciple promised Jesus “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go,” a second disciple, who also wanted to follow Jesus, inserted a request “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus’ response was a clear ‘No’ - “Let the dead bury their own dead.”
There is no justification we can offer for delaying in doing what Jesus has called us to do.
The unsaved can deal with dead matters, as Christians we are not to delay in doing the life-giving work Jesus asks us to do when He asks us to do it. What time is it?
As the author and finisher of our faith, God is at work in us daily, guiding us in the process of sanctification. He knows exactly what our needs are today, and how and when they change, as we journey to become more like Christ. He knows if we are in a time of self-driven despair and need to let go, or a time of God-given refining and need to surrender, or a time of repentance, or a time of healing, a time of giving or a time of receiving. To grow in sanctification, we need to remain sensitive to the Lord’s promptings and remain in Him, moment-by-moment – not impatiently running ahead of Him, nor comfortably delaying – He is God, we are servants.
God calls us to surrender to His timing because He sees it all and is working it all for the greater good (Romans 8:28). We cannot see it all and are only a very small cog in a very large machine. We cannot comprehend His full plan. His timing for our thoughts, words, and actions, extend well beyond us, into people and timelines we know nothing about. However, we have been given the The Holy Spirit which informs us, moment-by-moment, to what God is shaping in us and around us so that we can align actions, and timing, into His will for His church. God sees beyond the moment we are in, far into the future, even beyond the end of story as we know it when every knee will bow and proclaim that He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It’s worth processing . . . . why is it easy for us to disobey God’s timing and then comfortably mislabel it as delayed obedience? The Lord makes it clear that our roles as followers require that we follow on His schedule, not ours. When the hour is at hand, we ought not to fool ourselves into believing we are obeying as our schedules allows - three hours later.
There is no “Lord, first let me . . .” in a truly surrendered life.
Lord, Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
Steps to Growth
Time flies. Where does your time fly off to? The Bahamas? Your career? Solitude? Bitterness? Fear? Praise? Gardening? Loneliness?
If you could control time, what type of person would you give more hours in the day to? What type of person would you give less hours a day to? Where are you on this spectrum?
What season do you feel you are in right now? Is that by God’s design or have you drifted into this season? If by God, what is He teaching or refining in you during this season? Is this a season you’d like to linger in, or make haste to leave? If by your drifting, what emotions or decisions allowed that to happen? Are you willing to confess that and ask The Lord to get you back on track?
Looking back in life at significant moments, how did God’s presence show-up? Were you aware of Him at the time? If not, why? Does He show up in the same way in the smaller things of daily life? How can you be sure?