Wisdom and Time
Time – How do you view it?
When I was a child I measured time by Christmases. The span from one year to the next felt eternal. Yet now, I at times wonder why I should even bother to take down the tree. It seems a blink before it’s time to put it up again. Has it already been three months since Christmas?
It seems such a short time ago when our first grandchild was born. So how is it that she just DROVE over here to visit her papa tonight?
This week I turned 65 and joined the world of Medicare. How can this be? As my friend Gordon once bemoaned. Time is funny. At first it goes slow, but once you hit 60 it’s a freefall. Truth.
Time is precious. Each one of these grains of sand in this glass is valuable, not to be wasted or taken for granted. Each grain should represent a day lived to the full, according to God’s purposes.
I often wonder how God views time—since it is measured for us, but not for him. Really, what is two seconds or a hundred years compared to eternity? If I could understand God’s thinking, or how he viewed such things, then I suppose he would not be God. For his understanding is in another dimension altogether. And honestly, that’s comforting for me. Whether it may be the days of creation, or a day when the sun stood still—God does not measure time as we do. He is timeless.
We are all given a portion of measured time here on earth, yet we never know how many grains of sand are in our glass. Wyndham’s illness has driven this point home for me. I envisioned these years to be full of living out dreams together for God—yet, the dreams are not as I pictured. And oh-so- much harder. While none of us know our times, the visible grains of sand in some glasses are fewer than others.
I believe if I could but for a moment see time through God’s eyes I would only fall down and worship—because his plans are perfect. I just can’t see them in this physical dimension. God does not forget us. He is not deaf to our prayers. He is not blind to what is going on. He hears our sobs and is attentive to our prayers. Even our sighs are not lost to him. (And, he heard a lot of those this week.) Thus I know there is something more going on than I can’t now know or understand.
Last weekend we thought we lost Wyndham. Friday night he seemed fine, with a little sore throat. I was not concerned, as Jacob stayed here while I went to my women’s brunch Saturday morning. I came back home to find him burning up to the touch, unresponsive, with labored breathing. He could not communicate, and breathing was difficult. Oxygen was low. The rest of the day all seventeen of us surrounded him with love, prayers, songs, and many tears. Sunday was not much different and Monday morning breathing was so difficult he initiated our tearful goodbyes (or rather, “see you laters”), him wanting me to reassure him I would be okay. I can’t describe the intense sorrow I felt, combined with hope, knowing I truly would see him later. He would now be the “lucky” one.
Timing was such that earlier that week we had decided to use a hospice team, though I wasn’t really sure it was needed. As God’s providence would have it, the very first visit for the actual signing of papers with a nurse was as I arrived home Saturday morning when he was in such decline. Within hours we had oxygen, a hospital bed, and a nurse Saturday and Sunday. They did our thinking and procuring of things we didn’t even know we needed or have any idea how to get. On Monday we met his official (wonderful) nurse, who came and saw him in this tough state—on oxygen, with a high fever, and unable to talk. Thinking it may be an infection, she contacted his doctor asking to put him on an antibiotic immediately. Over the next few days his progress has been steady. Yesterday, when she arrived, he was in his wheelchair, smiling. (And I thought he might never sit in his chair again.) We knew, and she confirmed, that had he not responded to the penicillin he would not be here today. God gave us more time, for which I’m incredibly, deeply thankful…but it’s not easy time. Wyndham is weak, and life is hard. We know he will not always pull out of such a downturn, perhaps even the next time. But, I’m grateful to have him longer. There are still more grains of sand in his glass.
Wyndham has always treasured the verse in Acts 13:36 and trusted this.
“Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep (Acts 13:36a).
We trust that God allows us to serve his purpose in our generation, whatever unseen purposes this may involve. It always involves trust.
One of my favorite (but hard) scriptures is Psalm 31:3-5, 9, 15-16, and 24 (emphasis added):
3 Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
4 Keep me free from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge.
5 Into your hands I commit my spirit; deliver me, LORD, my faithful God…
9 Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief.
15 My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.
16 Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.
24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.
Our times are in his hands. His hand are big enough, strong enough, and tender enough. He doesn’t accidentally drop the hourglass. Whoops. Didn’t mean that. Our times are in his steady, mighty, never-failing hands.
I long to reach the point where I don’t fear death…for there is no fear in love (1 John 4:19)….I long to think as my granddaughter, Emery, stated after the difficult weekend…Why would we be so sad with what you have told me about heaven? Shouldn’t we be so happy for him? Oh to possess the wisdom of children.
Treasure the time you have today. Live in a way that will truly matter a hundred years from now, long after your sands have emptied. I love the vivid illustration I heard James Lloyd give decades ago. I’ll share what I remember, though I’m embellishing it to add my thoughts. He shared that…
If a baby in the womb could recount its thoughts, it would likely want to stay in the womb rather than enter some unknown world. Everything that it needs is in the womb. All feels good, even if it feels a bit cramped at times.
But then there is a time to be born. If the unborn baby were told…Proceed through this tiny dark and uncomfortable passageway into something you have no idea about…the response would likely be a kind “no thank you” or a loudly screamed…”not in a million years.”
Unknown to this unborn child is what lies on the other side—A loving father’s arms longing to receive his child…saying “you are so loved and you have no idea what’s on this side. There’s pizza, ice cream…and so much more. And arms that love and hold you…because you are mine.”
The following powerful words are excerpts from a sermon on Psalm 31 by Charles Spurgeon in May 17, 1881.
Having thus taken to the best resource by trusting in Jehovah, and having made the grandest claim possible by saying, “Thou art my God”, the Psalmist now stays himself upon a grand old doctrine, one of the most wonderful that was ever revealed to men. He sings, “My times are in thy hand.” This to him was a most cheering fact: he had no fear as to his circumstances, since all things were in the divine hand. He was not shut up unto the hand of the enemy; but his feet stood in a large room, for he was in a space large enough for the ocean, seeing the Lord had placed him in the hollow of his hand. To be entirely at the disposal of God is life and liberty for us.
The great truth is this-all that concerns the believer is in the hands of the Almighty God. “My times”, these change and shift; but they change only in accordance with unchanging love, and they shift only according to the purpose of One with whom is no variableness nor shadow of a turning. “My times”, that is to say, my ups and my downs, my health and my sickness, my poverty and my wealth-all those are in the hand of the Lord, who arranges and appoints according to his holy will the length of my days, and the darkness of my nights. Storms and calms vary the seasons at the divine appointment. Whether times are reviving or depressing remains with him who is Lord both of time and of eternity; and we are glad it is so.
We are not in our own hands, nor in the hands of earthly teachers; but we are under the skillful operation of hands which make nothing in vain. The close of life is not decided by the sharp knife of the fates; but by the hand of love. We shall not die before our time, neither shall we be forgotten and left upon the stage too long.
Not only are we ourselves in the hand of the Lord, but all that surrounds us. Our times make up a kind of atmosphere of existence; and all this is under divine arrangement. We dwell within the palm of God’s hand. We are absolutely at his disposal, and all our circumstances are arranged by him in all their details. We are comforted to have it so.
What a blessing it is to see by the eye of faith all things that concern you grasped in the hand of God! What peace as to every matter which could cause anxiety flows into the soul when we see all our hopes built upon so stable a foundation, and preserved by such supreme power! “My times are in thy hand!”