God’s Time

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Time flies, as the expression goes, and we’re often left wondering where it all went. The clock ticks relentlessly on, defying our attempts to keep the pace. And if we get far enough behind schedule, time seems like some cruel, oppressive force keeping us in sheer frustration.

Do you spend time fighting the clock? Does it control your behavior patterns, set your limits, dictate your opportunities, keep you moving too quickly, rarely allowing you to stop, consider and perceive the deeper realities? Do you sometimes end the day feeling as if you have lost a race?

I’ve taken my fair dosage of the so-called Protestant Ethic in my time. I know what it means to be obsessed with the fear of wasting time.

The scientific western world has succeeded in quantifying time. It has been defined as a measurement: seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, etc. Calibrated points on a continuum. The Bible has a much more interesting view. Since God transcends time, He doesn’t need our means of time measurement to keep track. His time is different from ours. What is God’s time like?

First, it is a gift. We don’t have to “make time” in order to be good Christians. God the Creator is the only one who “makes time.” He gives it to us as a gift. This means that we can relax from our obsessive-compulsive drive to fill up our time with scheduled activity. Instead, we can ask, “I wonder what opportunity God is giving in this moment, this day? How shall I respond to this gift?”

Second, God’s time has content. In New Testament times the Greek language had two words for time. Chronos referred to measured time, the sequence of hours, days, years. Kairos implied much more: time with a distinct quality or purpose. It meant the right time for something to happen, the ripe time for events to come to fruition. God’s time is kairos. Jesus began His public ministry with this the announcement: “The time (kairos) is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand” (Mark 1:15 KJV).

Third, God’s time has purpose. It moves toward a goal. In the Bible, time progresses toward a definite goal set by God. The Book of Revelation describes this goal as “a new heaven and a new earth” (21:1). Today has meaning because it points toward tomorrow.

Let us then increasingly ask God rather than the clock or calendar what time it is, how God’s tomorrow beckons our today. How’s your timing?

Philip D. Needham, The War Cry

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