Friday, March 08, 2019

Whose Time Is It?

I can hear the clock on the wall ticking away, marking the passing of time.  I look down on my desk, and I can see the calendar, which is also marking the passing of time.  The calendar has several labels, including Valentines Day, President's Day, and Saint Patrick's Day, among others.  I am reminded of this reflection on time in Ecclesiastes 3:

1 There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

This reflection reminds me of the various ways we use time.  But what is the significance of it all?  I understandably am sometimes demoralized when something happens to undo what I have done with my time.  I, like so many others, wonder what I do matters. 

The text goes on to declare in verse 11:

"He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." 

We have eternity in our heart.  We have the ages in our heart.  We want to see the big picture and know how everything fits together.  How does what we do matter?  Will something render our time in this life as insignificant?

I remember how my grandmother, in her later years, used to declare when we were worked up over something, "Oh well.  Who is going to care 100 years from now?"  She understood something about not seeing past the horizon even though we have eternity in our hearts.  For much of my early life, I did not know who my great-great grandfather was, much less my great grandfather.  I will probably not know who my great-great grandchildren are, and perhaps not know my great grandchildren.  My perspective is very, very limited in the overall scheme of things. 

However, I am reminded that I do not see the time line the way God does.  God also has eternity in his heart, but unlike myself, he can see from beginning to end.  He saw the cross while man was still in the garden.  He could see even further, past the cross, to the end of Satan, sin, and death in the lake of fire.  He even saw me long before I was born and how I fit into his overall plan.

Even though I cannot see time the way God does, I accept by faith that somehow what is beyond the horizon in front and behind me somehow all fits together in some grand scheme that is moving toward a consummation that will magnificently be worth it all. 

There is truly a time for everything.  I am reminded of this when Jesus, several times during his earthly ministry said, "My time has not yet come."  But as his time drew near, Jesus began to prepare his disciples for what was to come.  Here is what he said about those who will persecute his followers: "I have told you this, so that when their time comes you will remember that I warned you about them" (Jn 16:4).  Yes, they will have their time.  However, when their time came, he also said, "The hour has come for the Son of man to be glorified."  The enemy's is brief and temporary because it was also the time for the Son of God to be glorified by defeating the enemy on the cross.  Unlike the enemy's time, Christ's time is permanent!  Jesus said, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). 

All time is ultimately God's time.  It fits together as part of God's plan.  I need to keep this in mind when facing hardships.  I may not be able to see what is beyond the seasonal horizon, so I remember that God uses his time to bring about his plan from beginning to end.  Inserted into the middle of his timeline is myself, who works within the times and seasons to bring about the goal of God's time.  Thank you Lord for this perspective.