At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you. See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 2 Corinthians 6:2
We’ve all heard the joke about the man that says to God, “God, how long is a million years to you?”
God replies, “A second.”
The man then asks, “God, how much is a million dollars to you?”
God replies, “A penny.”
So the man gets brave. He asks God, “May I have a penny?”
To which God answers, “Sure. In a second.”
Although not entirely correct according to the Bible, this brief dialogue clues me in to the fact that God lives in a different time zone than we do. As the creator of time and Lord over time, he stands as the eternal Lord and Sovereign over history. Our lives have a beginning and an end. God is the beginning and the end. While our lives pass in a succession of chronological measurements of time, God exists the same in the past, the present, and the future. Everything that happens in all eras of time are as vibrant as the present in God’s mind. We may forget events or memories fade, but God views every period of time as if it just happened.
Time appears as the largest separator of us from God–almost as much as sin. We can do nothing about our original sinful state. Neither can we do anything about the passing of time. It can feel like we have two forces working against us in our endeavor to live in God’s presence. On the one hand, sin tempts us and brings us down. On the other hand, time is always moving us along a track pulling us away from the good times, into tunnels of darkness, or dragging us through sadness and pain.
Time seems to have its own destiny regardless of our wishes. It’s a non-stop train we can’t get off of. While we ride, our kids grow up and leave home, people we love age and die, and the world around us changes.
How do we stay connected to God when he stands outside and above time while we must stay confined to its passing?
Worship: In Ephesians, the apostle Paul says that the best use of our time is to sing( Ephesians 5:17-20). By singing to God and to each other, we worship. This keeps us in a place of praise and gratitude. Our time, and therefore our lives, is never wasted when spent focusing on God’s goodness.
Surrendering Fear: Psalm 90 has always been in my mind the “time Psalm” because of its many references to measurements of time. It begins with a declaration of how long God has been the dwelling place for his people–through all generations (verse 1).
Verse four recalls the same perspective on time for God as the joke above, “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or like a watch in the night.”
The Psalmist requests that God teach us to count our days so that we may gain a wise heart (verse 12).
The Psalm ends with the petition for God to let his favor be upon his children, and that he would prosper the work of their hands.
These verses from Psalm 90 affirm that when God stands as sovereign over all of time, he’s the ruler of my past, my present, and my future. In God’s time zone, the past stays in the past. It doesn’t leak into the present. It’s done. It accomplished the purpose God intended. He sees it, but it only needed to happen once.
Since God lives beyond the constraints of time, his presence in our lives frees us to fully engage in today. He holds it. We enjoy each moment as it unfolds knowing it will never return to us gain, and yet thankful that God allowed it to happen as it did, when it did.
Because God is eternal, we can live at absolute peace with the passing of time. We don’t need to worry about how the end will come or what will happen next. We have hope.
Looking for the Break-in: We stay connected to God when he breaks in . Consistent with the idea of time as a moving train, God surprises us in similar ways to a train robbery from an old Western. The band of outlaws ride their horses alongside the tracks. At some point, one of them jumps off his horse, landing on the train, and eventually breaking in.
Christmas happens in this way. A world going about its business as it would any day suddenly receives word of the arrival of a baby. God surprises us in those meaningful relationships with people who are special to us. One word or a shared experience becomes a treasured memory that stays with us for years to come. God also breaks in during those times when we hit walls. Old patterns don’t work anymore. We have a run-in with reality. Lots of times these occurrences are God interrupting our lives getting our attention so that he can lead us into something even better.