Before Christmas, I heard a sermon on God’s timing. The preacher elaborated on Paul’s observation that Jesus’ birth occurred when, “… the fullness of time had come.” (Gal. 4:4) He concluded with this statement:
Time is nothing
~ but ~
Timing is everything
Time and Timing
That simple phrase stuck with me and I described its impact to my husband on our long road trip, “It’s like a peppermint; I just keep flipping it around to savor and make sure I’m getting every last bit of flavor.”
We went on to talk about the New Year and I confided my competing thoughts about expectations for 2016.
You see, two years ago I had plans and dreams for the new year full of wonder and wonderful; it turned out it be completely opposite. So at this time last year, I had sworn off hope and expected nothing from turning the calendar. The year surprised me with more of God’s grace and new assignments than I could ever have conceived. “It all puzzles me,” I pondered.
My husband let me expand and expound, quietly listening as usual. When I had exhausted all relevant thoughts on how to discern God’s will, plan for new heart desires, brace for hard times, and sort through a range of emotions, he glanced away from the road for two seconds and with a straight face said:
“Sounds like you need to flip that peppermint a few more times.”
Cue the comedic release.
After laughing at his ability — once again — to stop the roller coaster of runaway thoughts, I realized that pre-Christmas truth was my New Year’s navigation.
Embrace the Tension
God’s timing is perfect, but it doesn’t always sync with our watch. We live and die by the calendar and the clock. This time of year, all the resolution rhetoric reminds us actionable plans must be time-specific. I don’t disagree. There’s much wisdom in defining specific, measurable, time-stamped goals.
How do we do that in light of the bigger picture, however? The short answer is, “It’s complicated.” It comes down to this: embrace the tension. But then, doesn’t it always seem to come down to that? Especially in discussions about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility, I often leave a conversation resigned to more questions than answers. This one is no different.
How do you give yourself completely to the work in front of you and yet hold it loosely? How do you set your hope in God, yet set your hands to work?
Psalm 90 embraces this tension, offering relevant truth for this complicated question. Consider these five points we see in this one passage.
1-Remember God is beyond our comprehension and He is not bound by time.
“For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past…”
2-(Even though God’s isn’t bound by time) ~ We ARE bound by time and must seek godly wisdom to fulfill our purpose during the days we have on this earth.
“So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.”
3-Complete satisfaction can only be found in God.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
4-We must look to see where God is already working.
“Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.”
5-(Even though our satisfaction comes from God alone and we need to seek where He is working) ~ Our plans and goals are important to Him, so much so that we can and should ask for His favor upon them and His power to establish our work.
“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!”
I don’t have all the answers, but slowly I’m learning the balanced view goes something like this:
- Plan like a wise steward. Watch like a faithful servant.
- Invest wisely, but remember you are at the mercy of God’s market.
- Sow. Keep sowing. Leave harvest day in the master gardener’s hands.
Finally, act in our time and trust in God’s timing. And when all else fails, flip the peppermint a few more times. ~smile
Encouraging YOU as YOU inspire others,