The precious gift of time

Astronomical Clock, Saint Jean Cathedral, Lyon, France

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14

I was almost done with Kindergarten when my parents gave me a real watch for the very first time. It was a hand-me-down German-made mechanical watch that had to be wound every day or else it slows down and eventually stops. But I was thrilled about the fact that I could now tell the time… anytime. No need to go to our dining room where the wall clock hung in our home. No need to walk from my seat in the classroom to look at the hallway clock in our school. I simply had to direct my eyes to my wrist and I would get an almost pleasurable sense of security simply by knowing exactly what time it was. My watch quickly became one of my favorite things. Unbeknownst to me, my 6-year old human nature was already revealing signs of a rigid preoccupation with timeliness and efficiency – great gifts which, sadly, could easily be turned into idols (which I did).

That time I was wrong about time…

There is no shortage of slogans about the preciousness of time and like most people, I thought I had a correct understanding of the value of time. When I read scripture verses that spoke about the temporal nature of things and how fleeting this life really is, my immediate response would be to resolve to do things even more quickly; not necessarily with more wisdom nor with greater love and compassion – just faster. I was wrong about my perception of time in many ways, but primarily, in the sense that I thought it belonged to me. Such perspective ironically caused me to be enslaved to that which I wanted to control. This bondage was evident in those less than pleasant reactions whenever my schedule was ruined. Anxiety crept in at the mere thought of being late for something, not because of a self-sacrificing respect of other people’s time but because I was protecting my reputation of being always on time. It was difficult to hide my frustration when people I worked with didn’t value time as much as I did. I took pride in my ability to manage time well. Everything I did was driven by efficiency. But the bible says faster is not always better. In fact a very wise king wrote, “The race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong.” Ecclesiastes 9:11

Time is God’s instrument…

Time is the brush of God as he paints his masterpiece on the heart of humanity. ” Ravi Zacharias

Time is God’s instrument. He who is eternal and is therefore not bound by the limits of time works out his will each and every moment. He made everything beautiful in his time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11. Time is a tool that he can use in a powerful way. Like all of creation, time is at his disposal. He commands the passage of time as he lovingly fulfills his purpose in our lives. He who is perfect never runs out of time. As a child of God, I have freedom to completely trust him who supplies all my needs to likewise carve the right amount of time that is necessary to obey His will, to grieve through loss, to pray each day, to build relationships, and to be restored. All of these take time. Time that he generously provides. Patience becomes possible when in meekness and humility, we begin to believe and trust that he who determines the ticking of the clock, the passing of each wave, the rising and setting of the sun, is a God who alone possesses complete knowledge and understanding of what is best for us. Faith is believing not only that God will do what he said he will do but also that he will accomplish it at the time that he chooses.

Trust in his time frame…

When I fix my eyes on God and His Word, and not on the clock, waiting becomes worship. He said “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 40:10 Stewardship of time grows and matures as an outcome of a much greater delight in the person of Jesus Christ himself and a deeper desire to do his will. “I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8

As we are being transformed to reflect Christ’s image to an anxious world, let us trust in his time frame and yield to his rhythm. We are not to be idle or complacent (that is definitely not Christ-like) but neither should we be deceived into thinking that we could go even half a beat faster or an inch of a step further than what he had planned for us. Otherwise our journey will miss out on joy because joy is only found in absolute surrender to Jesus.

“There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”  Elisabeth Elliot

L’horlogue fleurie (flower clock), Geneva, Switzerland

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Chat

Christian wife, mom and mom-in-law. Women's ministry director. Physician. Teacher. Will travel for food, history and art.

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