A friend left a comment on my last post: “God’s time is endless but human beings are limited. How shouldn’t time control me? How do we catch God’s schedule?” Really good questions! Here are some thoughts on the subject. See what you think.
First, a parable that has always intrigued me is in Matthew 20:1-16. Jesus tells of a landowner who hired workers at different parts of the day and promised each a full day’s wage. At the end of the day, the landowner paid as he’d promised. The workers who had worked longer complained that the ones hired much later had gotten the same wage. But the landowner said he had the right to be generous. The story’s key truth is that our salvation doesn’t depend on any service we do, but on simply being “hired”—having a personal relationship with God through Jesus. God’s grace (generosity) made the length of time the hired men worked irrelevant. Although the parable’s main point isn’t about time, it raises a question in my mind about how God looks at time in our lives.
Many truths about God are beyond our understanding because we are finite. Perhaps “time” is one of these. When hearing of some vibrant, effective Christian dying at a young age, haven’t many of us thought of this as a “waste”? Why him or her of all people? But isn’t it possible that the amount of time we are genuinely available for God’s service is magnified in God’s gracious economy just as God’s power extended the five loaves and two fish so that they fed 5,000 people (Matthew 14:15-21).
If that’s the case, should we just forget about the constraints of time? Our Western worldview says that success is based on accomplishing things in a timely manner. The traditional Eastern worldview focuses more value on being, not acting. It seems to me that the Bible presents a balance of both these views.
Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:15-18 to be careful how we live, to redeem the time by wisely using every opportunity as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit. The key for having time be our servant and not our owner is to trust and obey the Lord in each circumstance. To do this, having our minds “renewed” each day by Scripture is essential (Romans 12:1-2)—the “being” part.
We can get quick, necessary thought realignments throughout the day, but it takes time to renew our minds and hearts sufficiently so that God “restores our souls” (Psalm 23). Consider how frequently we get input from the world’s point of view, such as more stuff is better; don’t let anyone push you around; if it feels good, do it. And how about this one: time is money! Rushing through the day without a renewed mind is a sure way to waste time (John 15:5).
What about our to-do lists (mentioned in the previous post)? They can help us prayerfully prioritize our tasks, and we can begin to carry out our list, depending on the Lord’s guidance and empowerment. But when things take a lot longer than scheduled (usually the case for me), when we are waiting in the slowest line in the supermarket and watching people in the other lines speed out the door, when someone interrupts and needs our assistance, it’s good to remember that God’s timing and the world’s sense of time are vastly different. Being available to God at that moment is what’s important—listening to Him like Mary did, while Martha scurried around and complained. God’s grace will be more than sufficient despite the pressures of time.
This viewpoint on time is easily swallowed up by my life’s busyness. For me, it is a part of the heavenly, eternal view that needs to be renewed often and cultivated—and that’s an understatement. So, what do you think?