I think I’ve always had a problem with time — never was enough of it! There never seemed to be sufficient time for me to do all I needed — or wanted — to do. As early as when I was a senior in high school, lack of time put pressures and stress in my life. I worked part-time, was on the girls basket ball team, in the school choir, on the debate team and was drafted to be editor of the school paper. Added to that was the pressure, totally self-inflicted, to be valedictorian, or at least salutatorian of my senior class. (I must be quick to add — there were only 56 students in my senior class which considerably lessened the competition.) Years later when I would complain to my husband about not having enough time to get everything done, his answer always frustrated me: “You’ve got the same 24 hours in your day that everyone else has in their day.” I would quickly retort: “But I’ve got more to do in my 24 hours!” and he would just laugh and show no compassion for my dilemma.
My issues with time haven’t improved with age; instead advancing age has only added to the problem. Now it takes me longer to get the same things done! I know, I know — I’m “retired,” and theoretically I should no longer have to deal with time pressures, but I’m like a friend of mine, also retired, who told me recently he has tried to retire three times….and failed all three times!
Have you noticed that God doesn’t waste any of the experiences that he allows in our lives – not even our busy, stress-filled days. There are always truths he wants to teach us — some that we haven’t known before, or ones that we know in our heads, but need to learn how to walk them out in the midst of our daily lives. As believers and followers of Christ, we are to “live” by God’s Word — know his Word and seek to obediently apply it in our life each day.
In the midst my busyness, my heavenly Father frequently and lovingly reminds me of truths from his Word and how he wants me to live in the midst of busy days and pressures of time. Let me share a couple of those truths:
1. Begin each day with the awareness of his presence and my need to trust him for that day.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he enables me to stand on the heights. 2 Samuel 22:33-34
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace. Psalm 29:11
It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8
Once we are born into God’s family by the new birth, it is his plan that we live each day in dependence upon him and by the power of his Spirit within us. Jesus reminds us that “apart from him, we can do nothing!” (John 15:5b) We need to recognize the inadequacies of our own human wisdom and strength, and look to him to provide wisdom, insight, and guidance as we face each day. We acknowledge our need of him, and trust him to be to us and in us all that we need for whatever that day holds. It’s not just a quick few words in the morning but an attitude and action that we carry with us throughout the day.
I have found the daily devotional Jesus Calling by Sarah Young a very helpful reminder of these truths.
2. Be confident of the Lord’s ability to control the events of each day to bring about his plan for me that day — and his plans could well be different than my plans. Be open to God’s divine appointments and “interruptions.” Several verses come to mind that underline these truths.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
Paul, that mighty example of a man sold out for God, gives us examples of how the Lord
changed his plans and re-directed his steps as he and his traveling party were traveling to different places to share the gospel. Acts 16: 6ff gives us these interesting developments:
“And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Sprit of Jess did not allow them.” Keep reading in that chapter and you’ll see a good example of God interrupting Paul’s plans and sending him in another direction for an important divine appointment. As we walk with the Lord, we have to learn to have a listening ear, be flexible in our plans, and be willing to be available for his divine interruptions.
So much more I could write about the issue of “my time” but I’ll save it for another day, and turn our thoughts to a very contrasting view of time — God’s time!
When I stop to think about it, I am amazed that the timeless and eternal God, who is and always was and always will be (try and wrap your mind around that truth!) is also “bound” (if I can reverently use that word about God) by time. As I read through Scriptures, both Old and New Testament, I am struck by how often the issue of time is written into the Scriptures and what that reveals about God.
First, we have the very definite and orderly account of creation. The Genesis account puts the emphasis on time….each day recording God’s plans and purposes he accomplished in that day. Then throughout the Old Testament God records the number of years the persons lived showing the value of their lives. Psalm 139:16 reminds us that even when we were in our mother’s womb, God already knew us and had written “in his book” all the days of our lives. We are that valued by God!
Scriptures also reveal that God’s time is often on a different schedule than ours — and we frequently question God about that. Think about Abraham, that great patriarch in the Old Testament. God promised Abraham that he would have a son; what God did not tell Abraham was how many years would pass before that promise became a reality. But Romans 4:16 tell us this about Abraham: “In hope, he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations as he had been told.” It was not until Abraham and Sarah were old, well past child-bearing years, that Sarah became pregnant with that long-promised son. How often Abraham must have wondered, and yes, even questioned God, about the “timing” of the fulfillment of his promise. In fact, Genesis 16 and 18 reveals that Abraham and Sarah both laughed when God reiterated his promise of a child when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. (I think I would have laughed, too. “God, you’ve got to be kidding!” ) But in God’s perfect timing, when the situation seemed impossible, Isaac was born – demonstrating that God keeps his word and nothing is impossible with God.
Then there was David — anointed to be King of Israel as a young teenager by the prophet Samuel, but many years passed before he actually took his place on the throne as King of Israel. Those years were filled with running and hiding from King Saul who sought to kill David. Did David ever wonder about God’s timing? — But those years were not wasted years; they used by God to grow David into mature manhood, to give David time to become a strong leader, and most importantly to teach David to know him, to become a “man after God’s own heart.”
These are just a few of the many examples of the importance of God’s timing in the affairs on earth and in the hearts and lives of his people. One of the most meaningful examples of God’s timing, however, refers to the long awaited coming of Jesus Christ to earth — the promised Messiah — and Redeemer. Galatians 4:4-5 states very succinctly the preciseness of God’s timing for this dramatic event:
“But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.”
So very often our sense of the “rightness” of the timing of events isn’t in synch with God’s time schedule, and we fall into the trap of questioning, even doubting that his timing is good and perfect. I confess I have sometimes cried out “Why now, Lord?” or “Why is this taking so long?” I experienced this so strongly in the writing and publishing of my book, If I Tell You I’m Gay, Will You Still Love Me? One Mother’s Journey to truth and Grace. The writing of the book took two years, my attempting to get it published by a traditional publishing company another two years, and then after much seeking of the Lord, I decided to self-publish with CrossBooks, a division of LifeWay. With much excitement and sense of accomplishment, the complete manuscript was emailed to CrossBooks in mid June, 2013. Then, less then two weeks later, the morning of June 20, I received an email from a friend notifying me that Exodus International was closing down the organization! Exodus was founded over 40 years earlier as a ministry to those struggling with homosexuality and providing support for their families. They had been a source of help, comfort and hope to me when I learned my son was gay. The unexpected announcement had been made the night before at their annual conference. My first reaction was dismay and panic…because I had listed Exodus numerous times throughout my book as a source for information and help for individuals and families…and now, they were no longer in existence. There were a number of other areas of content in my book that this unexpected closing negatively impacted. I immediately contacted the publishing company to assure there was still time to put a hold on the publishing process and was relieved to know this could still be done — briefly.
Several very important sections of the book were impacted by the Exodus closing, and I and others began to pray for direction and provision of new material – quickly! There’s not time or space to share all the details in this blog but not only did God provide all the needed contacts and resources within a very short period of time, he also revealed his perfect timing.
In God’s full and perfect foreknowledge, the closing of Exodus did not come as a surprise to him. In fact, a few days later the realization dawned on me that God in his mercy had also prevented the publishing of my book before that event took place. Those two long years when I was not able to get my book published and I would get discouraged and question God “why” my book was not being accepted for publication, he was protecting me! If the book had been published earlier, it would have contained much incorrect information. The referral information would have been incorrect and the value and authenticity of the book would have been damaged. My initial dismay turned to rejoicing and praise for God’s protection and perfect timing. I was certainly experiencing the reality and truth of a powerful quote by John Piper:
“In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know.”
More about the wonder and outworking of God’s timing and purposes in peoples’ lives in my next blog. Stay tuned!