Keeping track of time has changed quite a bit since Moses wrote, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” He did not talk about hours, minutes, or seconds – just two halves of the day. Those close to the tabernacle could use their nose to tell the time by evening and morning sacrifices. Sundials used shadows to track hours by 3500 BC. Chinese monks and scholars developed the first mechanical clock that used water driven wheels to beat a drum every quarter hour and ring a bell every full hour (725 AD). By the 15thcentury the French had clocks with gears and springs rather than using water or weights. Clocks improved to the point where they lost only four minutes per day and would set the stage for miniaturized versions that could be put in a vest pocket. Of course you can now link your watch to your phone to keep track of your steps, heartbeats, and text messages.
Watch collecting has become quite a subculture. One company tried to cater to those who wanted luxury watches but could not afford a closet shelf full of autowinders. For a monthly fee from $149 on the low end to $999 on the upper end, Eleven James would send you a new luxury watch every three months as long as you sent the last one back to them. Imagine leasing watches just like someone leasing a luxury SUV!
As you might guess, I am a mechanical watch guy. While mine were all found under the $100 mark, I enjoy winding them to set a new day in motion. I pick the watch, wind the crown, set the time and change the date if necessary.
Often I catch myself wanting to control time rather than being satisfied with simply synchronizing my watch. I want to slow down the joyful times with one of the ladies in my life (all princesses – Mom, Sherri, Jen, Amanda, Jane, and Juhina) or my son, James III. Times with Dad become more cherished with each passing year. Grandchildren, from the eldest, Jaden, to the youngest, Jubayr, make time special; distance has made those times even more precious.
Painful times somehow have the power of making time crawl while approaching deadlines accelerate time. From my experience Einstein was right, time is not very consistent.
One of my human weaknesses expresses itself when I try to alter God’s timing. The Bible clearly explains His desire to be with all humanity, and His work in Christ reconciles all things to Himself. He has promised to give us the ministry/deeds of reconciliation and the words of reconciliation as part of His creation upcycling process. God made the promises; I believe Him.
How long, Oh Lord, will this take? Are we almost there? Why has it taken this long? Millions of saints have prayed, labored, believed, and died, yet the time has not yet come.
Sometimes I catch myself looking at my spiritual clock and wondering if it still works. Surely time seems to have stopped. Perhaps if we cream louder, pray harder, or hunger more, then we could make God’s time speed up.
Forgive me, Lord.
Paul disappointed the people of Ephesus in Acts 18. He said he would come back at some later point if the Lord willed. Evidently the Lord’s timing brought this to pass in Acts 19. Time was right. The 12 disciples of John Baptist would now hear of Jesus’ name baptism and the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues and prophesied; they had only waited 20 years or so! How long had those who experienced “extraordinary miracles” waited? Why did people have to suffer the manipulation of magical arts and wasted so much wealth on the illusion of help or demonic control when God promised to bless all nations through Abraham’s children in Genesis 12?
Watches, sundials, and calendars do not capture God’s timing. Lifetimes fail as well. When God’s timing was right, Ephesus became the center of kingdom witness to that region of the world.
God’s will disrupts more than the normal progress of time. Some respond to the disruption to the time-space continuum with unbelief and speaking evil of the Way. Others threw out valuable investments in magic arts as they saw the word of the Lord continue to increase and prevail mightily. Those who tried to harness the power for their exorcism business got a beating.
God will always cause confusion and delay for the established order. Actually the disruption comes to the disorder around which people have ordered their lives.
While a silversmith instigated the riot, most agitated people in the arena did not know why they joined the arena protest. They joined the worship of Artemis/Diana without a reason. Someone told them to jump, so they did. Someone told them to scream, so they did. Someone told them to shout out the greatness of the Ephesian god; they did so for two hours.
Paul and his team lived a life of worship during the Ephesian chaos. Some people actively rejected them; some people received with joy. Other folks got swept up in the frenzy while a few folks maintained a dispassionate middle ground. Paul’s ministry approach spoke powerfully for Christ, but he did not act sacrilegiously or blaspheme other faith systems. Following God’s timing gave the disciples peace of mind to proclaim Christ without shaming others. Sometimes city fathers brought riots; at other times thy served as peace makers while Paul proclaimed the Prince of Peace.
Releasing the need to control or anticipate God’s timing frees disciples to do and speak righteousness.
The Word calls me to pray.
I am a bit weary today, and the coming weeks have more events crowded into them than what I think I can accomplish to my satisfaction. I fear disappointing You, others, and myself. By this time I thought … well I do not know exactly what I thought, I just know I didn’t think my life would look like this.
I know much of the exhaustion comes from my own making. You have shown me some of the wonderful things You are doing to reconcile all things to Yourself, and I want to see them come to pass. Then I proudly think I can accelerate the time or make it happen by working harder. Somehow I took the responsibility of getting the mission accomplished. I am sorry for judging Your schedule and faithfulness to Your promises as inadequate. I repent of my pride of thinking I could improve on Your Spirit moving on the face of chaos as You make all things new.
Casting all of my anxieties on You represents a significant part of my repentance. I humbly do so today. I take my hands off of my feeble attempts to control time as if my manipulation of clock hands actually changes things.
I rejoice in the freedom to simply live the Kingdom Way. You make living holy and justly possible even when I do not see results on the schedule I would like to see them. I put down disappointments of missed timetables and accept the peace and hope You offer. Living as a disciple brings joy whether I see the results today or not. Being daily renewed as part of Your new creation opens my capacity to see new ways You recreate all things. I will simply do what You have put in my hands for today.
I breath again. I breath more deeply than I did yesterday. I breath in the freshness of Your Spirit and feel life where I was afraid my bones could not live again. Thank You for helping me to put down my timetable and expectations one more time. My back could not handle the weight; those expectations squeezed the life out of me. Letting You be God and carry the burdens makes me feel alive again.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done… in Your timing.