Time is a funny thing. It goes too fast. Then too slow. We want it to stand still and then wish it didn’t. We love losing track of it but incessantly strive to find it. There are few things more frustrating and difficult than running out of time or wasting it. We just can’t seem to get it right! Why does time so often feel out of joint?
Now I love a good book on time management as much as the next person, but surely if it were an easy thing to sort out we would have mastered it by now! Surely our struggles with time show there’s something deeper at stake.
The Bible has lots to say about time and about why we feel the way we do about it. And it contains some simple but deep truths that can really do help us become good time travellers—not in the sense of being able to jump forwards and backwards through time, but in that they equip us to journey through the days and minutes we have in a wise and joy-filled way.
Over three articles we’ll get to sweep through some of these truths but it’s worth starting with the most foundational one: the Scriptures introduce us to a loving time creator and time-keeper—the original and the best Time Lord.
Say hello to the perfect Lord of time
The Lord God, time and again, is described in the Scriptures as being beautifully unbound by, and yet in control of, time. He is everlasting (Ps 90:2). He is the one holding the drumsticks and beating out the rhythm of the stars and seasons, of animals feeding and sleeping (Ps 104:19-22). But he also holds our times in his hands. Political leaders rise and fall, their eras and epochs open and close, at his bidding (Dan 2:21).
Closer to home, my times are written in his book. He knows when I rise and rest. He knitted together my very beginnings (Ps 139). Surely the existence of this loving, personal time-creator and keeper explains why we have a sense that time should run smoothly even though we probably have never experienced a perfectly timed day in our lives.
Tips for the discerning time traveller…
I think there are three tips for time-travelling that fall out from this truth.
Tip#1: Enjoy the freedom of time limits
Ultimately God holds the clock, not me. He’s the one who has determined how much time there is in a day and a year. And he is not a tyrant who asks for more than is possible. He is the good Lord of time. So I take it that if my ‘to do’ list for the day has so much on it that it can’t be physically done in the next 24 hours (including sleep!) then it is my list—not his. He does not ask of me more than is possible in the time he has given me. There is freedom in that. I can rest knowing he is the time-keeper and time-creator.
Tip#2: Rejoice in his rhythms
One of the many great things about living in Canberra is that the seasons are on full display. Spring is a real thing here, not just a word on the calendar. The landscape really does defrost and get repainted in the most beautiful colours and shades. Each year the tree out the front of our house cycles through green, purple and leafless-brown. And I know the guy who’s doing it. With so many of us cooped up in urban environments it’s easy to miss the kind of natural rhythms the psalmist sings of in Psalm 104—of animals feeding and sleeping, of the moon and sun’s movements. But even the daily migration of commuters to work and home again is a natural rhythm that God holds in his hands (Ps 104:23). Every so often it’s worth sitting back and watching the time rhythms God has woven into our world and praising him for it.
Tip #3: Fight the sense of time entitlement
But all this talk of God having the clock and not us has a sharper challenge to it too. The time he gives us is just that—a gift, not an entitlement. When a repairman is late, the call-waiting tunes seems interminable or the check-out seems ridiculously slow, it’s so easy to get frustrated and internally shout: “Stop wasting my time!” But at the end of the day, it’s not my time at all. God has given me my days to love him and love others. Each moment is a gift not a given.
In the next instalment we’ll look more closely at why time feels so frustrating and is downright mucked up. But that is for next time, so until then—travel well!
Look out for part 2 of Annabel’s time-travel series next week.