Remember when you were little how the passage of time seemed to move with excruciating slowness? If you’ve got the voices of little ones around you now, this may doubly resonate with you like a noisy and never-ending echo.
It was as though the hands on the clock on the classroom wall or the hours of a vacation road trip stretching out before us marked time in slo-mo, and conversely, the sunset on a weekend or the call for clean up after a playdate came so quickly, before a young me had had the chance to fully embrace the leisure of the moments or the days.
How things have changed—and yet, they’ve stayed the same! Time never seems to act the way we want it to. I find it incomprehensible that I am in my 50s—nearly 60!, that more than half of an average woman’s lifetime has elapsed—until I look in the mirror and see that my mind’s eye has tricked me and aging’s truth serum reveals the brutal reality that so many years have sped by.
But, on the other hand, I seem to spend so much energy marking time wherein there seems to be no evidence that my prayers are heard or regarded in the heavens.
Why the delay? My desires reflect God’s revealed will; I am confident I am on solid biblical ground. I know a good and holy God wants a good and holy thing like what I’ve asked for. But for seven years now I have prayed without getting the answer I want. At first, with hope, buoyed by joy that the Lord would count me worthy to suffer affliction with him. Then less frequently, and I admit I was often guilty of freezing out God, following the folly-filled maxim that if he wasn’t going to empathize with my pain, maybe he didn’t deserve my regard.
Sometimes it seems an answer was being teased out by events, and I’ve teetered expectantly, breath bated, only to have the sorrow and disappointment crash down around me again. Too often I have gotten tangled up in racing ahead of God, trying to put all the pieces in place to make it easier for him to satisfy my designs, smoothing the bumps, shooing away the distractions.
What would be a better use of time is shooing away the delusion that my mortal perspective reveals all that the Lord is doing in my life, in the world, in time and space. What would be better exertion of energy would be contemplating my broken chains and redeemed soul than what I believe hasn’t been done sufficiently for me. What would be a better focus of my prayers is to limit my words when I find them full of presumption, laden with insolence and complaint. “Be slow to speak,” says James 1:19, and the writer of Ecclesiastes exhorts, “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
My very salvation rests on his patience and longsuffering. If the offended God had not restrained his wrath for the sake of undeserving criminals like me, it would not have been a freeze-out I would have experienced, but a fiery furnace. He measures every moment and fills it with the works for that span, each event or conversation or delay or pause or “natural” phenomenon or “artificial” mechanism—whether unexpected or ordinary, joyful or sorrowful, world-tilting or calm-inducing—dispatched to carry out his plan with precision and glorious perfection.
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and ta thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3:8-9)
“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7)
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.” (Lamentations 3:22-26)
Every morning promises new mercies and the steady and faithful love of the Lord, all the portion I need, trustworthy because he is and not because I feel it to be so, measured not through my faulty glass, but his exact dispenser. The wait is not according to the limited, linear tick-tock-tick that rules my days but is compassionately determined with salvation in mind, set to a clock vastly more accurate than Greenwich Mean Time.
I just need to rely on his divine timepiece, which is calibrated to the patience of a mercy-dispensing Father, whose hand sweeps according to the grace and wisdom of a bountiful Provider, whose timing is not only fixed to the authority of his glory, but also—amazingly, wound to the supplication of all my needs.