Wouldn’t it be great if we could get our hands on God’s watch? Or even just peek at it? We would be able to grasp God’s timetables. We would have the answers to some of our greatest questions such as, “When will [blank] happen?”, “When should I pursue [blank]?”, and “How much longer do I have to wait for [blank]?”
However, this knowledge would not come without cost. Some of our faith could possibly become obsolete because there would be no need for trust. This lack of faith would foster self-sufficiency and would very likely squelch much of our reliance upon the Lord. Life would no longer be spontaneous and the future would no longer remain an unknown.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe God has a watch. Even if He did, keeping time would mean nothing to Him. In fact, the Bible tells us that God is outside of time; He is not bound by or constrained to minutes, days, years, etc. (John 8:57 – 58). This has huge implications upon our lives because we are shackled to the realm of time. The difference between God’s unrestrained nature and what sometimes seems like human slavery to time results in a vast disparity. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” What does this even mean and what kind of implications does it have on our lives? We will never understand God’s timing this side of heaven. This is something we are obliged to live with.
Every person must face the difficulty that comes when God’s timing does not line up with our own. What is the desperate job seeker to do when the employment doesn’t come through? How does the married couple face another childless year when everyone around them has caught the pregnancy bug? How much longer does the single woman have to wait for a good man? Will science ever find a cure for the illness plaguing the young person in chronic pain?
Our response to these sometimes gnawing questions is a matter of faith: Do you really believe that God loves you; that He has given you every spiritual blessing; that even in the midst of heartache He is working for the good; that He is truly trustworthy? Often when our prayers are not answered and our faith waivers we have a choice to make. We can stay stuck in doubt or we can choose to believe what the Bible says about God. As is true of many life matters, we must forgo feelings and cling to faith.
The culture we live in is very anthropocentric, or human-centered. We err when we live as though our lives are completely about us and solely seek our own glory. We also err when we stubbornly want what we want now. Almost everything in our environment points to instant gratification: instant oatmeal, immediate trivia answers on Google, 24-hour service. We are easily irritated when we have to wait. Many of us will never forget those infuriating moments, prior to Wi-Fi and high-speed Internet, when we sat in front of our computers waiting and listening for slow AOL dial-up tone to connect to the internet.
Unlike most things in life, God is not about instant gratification. This is because He does not exist for us, but rather we exist for Him. God values prayerfully waiting on Him. He knows we do not have all the answers and that this life is often very difficult. In the midst of our tragedies and questions it is important we remember God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17). With this in mind, we humbly lay everything we have and all that we are before Him. We let go our self-centeredness, our schedules and our desires. In doing so, we remove God from the box that we sometimes put Him in and allow Him the freedom to work out His will in us according to His good purpose and His timing.
God is not inactive or silent while we wait on Him. During seasons of waiting He continues to work in us. While waiting might seem a waste of time, God designed it to be productive. The exercise of waiting is shaping and sharpening. Through it God instills humility, patience and peace in our hearts and minds.
It’s been said that we do not know what the future holds, but we believe in a God who holds our future. Since God is beyond time, He fully abides in the past, present and future. In the same way that we view our surroundings at this precise moment, God just as clearly sees every day in everyone’s life throughout all of history. Although we may never understand why and when God chooses to work, we rest in the hands of a God who gave His life for us. Like the Psalmist we can faithfully proclaim to the Lord, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).
We may not keep God time—but God keeps our time.
Brittany Volpei is the author of a children’s book called Mika: An Orphan’s Story of Faith, Hope and Love. There is nothing she likes better than a good redemption story.