“If I could save in a bottle..” sang Jim Croce.
Time’s a funny thing. Sometimes it’s soft and flits like a butterfly from day to day with lightness and joy. And then there are seasons where it’s more akin to a dinosaur somnambulating (sleep walking, I like the word 😊) through mud, thick, heavy and slow. I prefer the lighter version but, as is the case with all of us, we have no control over time. Although perhaps our perceptions of our present play a significant role in whether we’re catching butterflies or dreading the dinosaurs.
In the biblical accounts of people with famous lives and great spiritual pedigrees the backdrop of time is easily ignored or missed. “Time changes for no man.” I’m thinking about this as I consider how often the process of time was considerable between significant events in the lives of these individuals. I want a frenetic pace of great experience, overcoming, revelation, breakthroughs, and meaningful moments and when they seem lost in a drought of ordinary, I wonder where God is.
He’s actually ‘right by my side’ and invariably it’s my misguided sense of ‘what should be’ that prevents me from embracing a present, that’s not a drought, it’s merely an essential part of a life process. Not everything is a blaze of glory and firework event. Stillness, quietness, and calm anticipation amidst the mundane can be food for the soul and a cradle in which a magnificent future is nurtured and weaned. Nothing is never happening.
Cast your mind back to Moses raised in an Egyptian palace where he lived for nearly forty years before he emerged from obscurity when he killed an Egyptian in anger. Then he had to flee in fear and tend sheep and goats in a remote desert wasteland for another forty years. There’s a whole bunch of time tied up in those years where he must have despaired when trying to understand the point and purpose of his life. And when God finally spoke to him through a burning bush Moses nearly freaked out and used every excuse he could think of to wriggle out of the mandate to free his people from slavery. Often the very thing we long for in our fantasies terrifies us when the reality hits the ground at out feet – then times stands still.
David was anointed King of Israel and spent 14 years escaping a jealous mad king occupying the very throne God had said would be his. Fourteen days can be a drag. Fourteen months is an eternity. Fourteen years?
That’s nothing when you consider Jesus, born in a stable to be the long-awaited Messiah, the revelation of God on earth, the coming of the Kingdom, the Savior of the world. He was hidden in a peasant family in Nazareth for thirty years. What does the Son of God do in Nazareth for that period of time? Your guess is as good as mine…. Tend to what is at hand, care for those in your life, and celebrate the goodness of God in the midst of the ordinary.
In all these cases (and there are many more) God had not forgotten them, or lost the plot, or withdrawn His love or presence. In a finite world of clocks measuring seconds, minutes, and hours sometimes time is required to pass for the fulness of God to be revealed.
The good news is that God multi-tasks and has many ‘fulnesses’ to reveal. While we impatiently kick our heels waiting for the ‘one thing’ we’re longing for that never comes, He has Fedex parcels arriving at our door most days to be unwrapped and embraced that will equip us for the ‘big one’. He’s so creative He even uses those little things to transform us more than we could imagine. Before we know it we’ve forgotten about what isn’t present yet and we’re resting and enjoying in His presence beyond all time, and quite enough for our here and now.
There’s not a bottle big enough to capture the time that God has in mind for you and me. He wants us to have the time of our lives, so what are we waiting for?