GOD’S TIME … AND YOURS
Jeremiah 31: 10-14; Ephesians 1: 2-14
Someone once said, “What time is it? [It is] time to do well, time to live better, give up a grudge, answer the letter; speak the kind word to sweeten a sorrow, do that kind deed you would leave ‘till tomorrow.” Each year Americans and others mark January 1st as the beginning of a new year: a time when some reminisce about the last year and some say good riddance; some make plans and some make promises. So on this third day of January, what time is it for you? And how fast is time now flying for you? If you are young, the year probably seemed too long and the Christmas vacation too short; if you are a parent it was likely the other way around! If you are older it may feel like the years are going by faster and faster. Time is something that, regardless of our mood, our desire, or our wealth, gets spent whether we like it or not. Sometimes we even do things to “kill time.” Some may pace, read waiting room magazines, or do crossword puzzles or Sudoku; others play games on their cell phones or they call someone. Time can be frittered away or used wisely. Time gets spent, and when it is gone it cannot be returned. Here is the way the Psalmist imagines what time is like to God: “For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past.”
Jeremiah was a prophet before and during the Babylonian Exile. We discover that no one on earth knew how long the people of Judah would be in Babylon because of their faithlessness. Only God knew when the time would be accomplished. God’s will and plan gets carried out even in the midst of human sin and willfulness. In our analogue or digitally timed world, seconds go by at the same pace forever; it is only our demeanor, focus, and age that seems to make it speed up or slow down. But in Kairos, that is, God’s time, God gives those events redemptive purpose. The preacher in Ecclesiastes told us; “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under Heaven.” Then he gave us examples: “A time to be born, and a time to die,” “a time to weep and a time to laugh,” “a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, and so on.” There is a time for everything in Kairos time; but in our time we are either not yet ready to die or more than ready to die; we may weep to much and laugh too little or the other way around; we may wish to be embraced or at other times wish to be left alone. We get out of synch with ourselves. Our job is to be in synch with God.
Kairos is a way of affirming that the hands on God’s clock and days on God’s calendar move at a different speed than our clocks and calendars. Things may not be happening in your life in the order and way that you dreamed that they might, with unexpected deaths, divorces, layoffs, or depression, but for those who love God, according to Romans 8:28, God will accompany you and work to pull good out of the jaws of disaster or tragedy. According to Paul, “We have been chosen by Christ before the foundation of the world to become, through him, holy and blameless before God.” How are we doing? We are not there on our own and we never will be. The one who can present us faultless before God is the Lord Jesus Christ. By putting our trust and belief in Him, we can begin a new year, and even a new life, on the right foot. Starting out on the “right foot” is significant, just as Jesus “sitting at the right hand of the Father” is significant. The right hand is the hand of blessing; stepping out on the right foot means you plan to walk in the ways of His blessing. Paul says Jesus has a plan for the fullness of time for those who desire it. If some today decide in their heart that they want to recommit to Christ, then answer the knock on the door of your heart and he will come in. If you choose to partake in Holy Communion today you are saying to Jesus who sacrificed for you, “I accept your love for me, and I offer my love to you.”
In his wonderful letter to the Ephesians, Paul also says “With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things to him, things in heaven and things on earth.” The hairs on our heads are numbered, even though with some of us that number is dropping! Our days please God if we are faithful. God even knows how long we will be on this earth and when we will move to resurrected life … or not. Choices are still ours to make. But time is God’s gift to us; every minute that ticks by in traffic, in church, or at work is a minute that gets used and is gone, never to be reclaimed. We have a chance to prayerfully seek to live life in synch with God, not letting the ticking of the clock or the flipping of a calendar page make us anxious. Instead of standing flatfooted and letting the world throw it’s curveballs across our plate, beginning in this new year we start each day as if we are stepping into life’s batter’s box. While on deck, a good baseball player imagines what pitches might come his way, studies the way the fielders are playing him, and mentally prepares himself for the pitch. This year, instead of letting each day roll right over you, why not begin each new day with prayer, asking God to make you mentally alert, insightful, and ready? Then in God’s own time, your time at life’s plate may produce an out, but it also might be a home run; there might be runs scored and there will certainly be walks. But that is not our worry; our concern is to be in life’s game, to step up to the plate ready to be on time and in time, and to live it for all we’re worth. Let’s start today.
Jeffrey A. Sumner January 3, 2010