I’m not sure where this is going to go–I just know if I follow this thread to the end, it will probably involve several posts. So bear with me while I find my way and figure out whether this is a “thing” worth exploring.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of time and the role it plays in our lives, in our theology, and in our sense of destiny. (I know–I spend too much time thinking. How spacey can a guy get?)
But seriously. Think about how many ways time, or timing, affects us. In my circles, we’ve always talked about the divine timing of God, and how when He speaks a word, there will also be a timing in which that word comes to pass. (Consider, for example, all the centuries that passed between when God first announced a coming Messiah and when the Messiah actually arrived.) Then there is the time of our life span, in which God works within us or moves upon us or draws us by His grace. I’ve totally given up the question of who is going to heaven or hell, not because I don’t believe in hell, but because I’m not the judge of people’s hearts, and because every day that each of us lives on earth is a day when God extends His grace to us, another opportunity to choose Him. He is giving us time. Someone’s trajectory today might not be the same tomorrow. That’s the power of time in our lives.
For control freaks like me, time can be a pain in the butt. That’s why I titled this post (and possibly series) “The Elusive Variable of Time,” because time is a variable we cannot control. It marches on incessantly, whether we like it or not. We can’t change it, we can’t move through it, and while we can choose what we do personally within it, we have very little say in what else happens in it, or when it happens.
There are things I want to happen right now in the timeline, but I simply can’t dictate when they will happen. They might happen tomorrow, they might happen years from now. When we feel God has promised something, we are completely at His mercy as to when in time that promise will be fulfilled. Case in point: Jesus said that no one but the Father knows the day or the hour when He will return. The Psalmist reflected, “My times are in Your hands.” So much of what happens in this timeline is completely out of our control, and completely within God’s control.
Time is why we need to develop faith. And patience. If we could make everything happen when we wanted it to, there would be no need for either.
See what I mean about time being the elusive variable? It’s elusive because we have no control of it. It’s a variable because the timing for everything seems to be different. There just does not seem to be any way to predict the timing of God. What He says will happen might happen tomorrow–or it might happen a hundred years from now. When we pray, we have no idea how much time it will take before that prayer gets answered. All we can do is plead along with the psalmist,”O my God, do not delay!” We literally have to take it on faith that it will happen when it is supposed to happen.
Time is also the reason why faith cannot be reduced to formula: timing is always different from one walk of faith to the next.
Are you completely confused yet? I know I am–and I’m the one writing this stuff.
I suppose where I’m heading with all this rambling is that the factor of time is one we often don’t think about when it comes to our spiritual life (and our life in general), and yet it has such a profound effect on us that it is difficult to describe. In some cases, time is an ally, and at other times, it can be a point of intense frustration. Sometimes we act too quickly, and sometimes not quickly enough. Sometimes we are supposed to wait on God, and sometimes He is waiting on us. I’m coming to understand that a key part of discipleship is to learn to discern which is which. Learning how to take timing into account is a huge part of our faith walk at any given moment, probably more than we realize. I guess I’m just amazed about this, and that’s why I’m going on and on about it.
I do think I know where I’m going with this, so yes, there will be at least a part 2–and at that point, I think this abstract concept will begin to be a bit more tangible. To sum up this nonsense, I suppose I’m just pointing out that learning to understand the role of time in our life and spiritual walk is a constantly changing dynamic, one which we will all probably grapple with for our whole lives. It’s certainly one of the reasons why faith is so important. It’s also a key reason why we cannot rely on our own understanding, why we really need to be led by the Spirit of God as we navigate our way through time.
In the next post, I’ll talk a bit about some faulty theology I’ve had about the timing of God, and how it may have cost me years of progress. You won’t want to miss it. 🙂