Time’s a funny thing, isn’t it? Don’t worry this isn’t the precursor to a meditation on the laws of the universe, (I’ve neither the energy nor the mental equipment required). But if he were an acquaintance, you could be forgiven for feeling a bit well, ambivalent about his presence. Some days he looks like a friend. The sun is shining, the barbie’s lit, you’re kicking off your shoes and kicking up sand and there’s hours in which to chew the cud and enjoy time with people you love. ‘Mate!’ you shout. ‘Pull up a chair and grab yourself a beer’. But he’s already got one and he toasts you with a wink and a smile – life and soul of the party.
Other days however, Time can be the unwelcome guest. Perhaps the days are stretching ahead – they’re lonely and purposeless, or frightening and uncertain. You spot him in the living room and retreat to the kitchen to slag him off in hissed whispers. But he just won’t leave and he won’t be ignored. Like the sausage rolls that exploded in the microwave, you can smell him, even if you can’t see him.
Or maybe the opposite is true. Time is running out. He’s halfway down the street, before you realise he’s even left. And he’s taken with him your favourite guests. You speed after him but it’s too late. Perhaps you turn to go back, but the kids have grown up and the house doesn’t look the same. You can hear music and laughter, but you’re locked out. Party’s over and no-one saw it coming.
Jesus talks about this in a famous parable. He tells the story of a rich merchant who owned great wealth. He had nowhere to put it all, so he decided that, before he retired, he’d build some storehouses for it. Then – he could finally relax and enjoy his good fortune. But God says this, ‘You fool – this very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?” So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.
Psalm 35 talks about time like this:
I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.
Trusting in the LORD means surrendering our times into His hands. To confess the Lord as “my God” means acknowledging that my time is not my own. This is scary – especially to a control freak like me. But you know what, it’s also liberating. I’ve demonstrated again and again that I’m a terrible mistress of my time. I try to own it and use it as a commodity that proves my worth and justifies my existence. Maybe you do the same. But there’s not enough time and talent in the whole world to establish the kind of righteousness that our hearts really desire. Far better to stop trying and instead to trust our times to the Redeemer who justifies us completely and promises to “restore the years the locust has eaten.” (Joel 2:24). As Jesus cries out on on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). I can add nothing – and this is what sets me free. Instead of being a slave to the unforgiving minute, I can now enjoy it as a gift from a loving Lord. If I needed more time, He’d give it. If I needed less, He’d withdraw it. And my relationship with Him is what makes every second count.