A Time To...
Whether they have read it in the book of Ecclesiastes or heard it from The Byrd's, most people in our culture are familiar with the following biblical poetry:
"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven":
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8)
The beginning of a new year marks a time in which we might make resolutions, chart out goals, or plan special events. But in the midst of all of our resolutions, goals, and plans, God's Word calls us to acknowledge His sovereignty and providence in our lives. The Westminster Shorter Catechism reminds us that “God's works of providence are, his most holy, wise, and powerful preserving and governing all his creatures, and all their actions” (WSC #11). God governs all things, including time. His sovereignty extends over every event, even eternity.
When we read the Gospels, we see that Jesus assumes the very same authority over time as the Father. Jesus always knew what time it was. The hymn “Crown Him with Many Crowns” rightly calls Jesus the “Lord of years, the Potentate of time.” Repeatedly, the disciples ask Jesus when “the time” will come. They were looking for the earthly kingdom of the Messiah to be inaugurated. Like little children on a long car trip to Disney World, they keep pressing Him with the question, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” Jesus patiently responded by intimating that His “hour has not yet come.” There was a proper time for everything that Jesus did. There was a day appointed when Jesus would be born. And there was a time when he would die. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom 5:6). There was a time for everything Jesus did and all of it was subject to the Father's good will. How often do we jump the tracks as we try to force our own wills or agendas? How often do we declare our plans to God and expect Him to get into line with us? Instead, we need to learn to wait on God and His timing. Patience is an exercise of faith in the sovereignty and goodness of God.
As we look forward to 2017, we would do well to remember that God is the One who orders our days and is sovereign over our time. “A time to be born, and a time to die.” It has been said that "birth and death are two appointments that no man sets yet every man keeps." Your birth was not planned by you, neither will your death be. These appointments rest in God's sovereign, good and perfect timing. All of the worrying and fretting over the various events of your year will not add one second to your life (Matt 6:27). So, this New Year, look forward to being free of anxiety and worry. Trust that God has your life under control.
Let us press into this New Year with greater faith in God. And as a result of our faith in the sovereignty of God over all things we should heed the Apostle Paul's admonition to “make the best use of the time” (Eph 5:16). As the Preacher of Ecclesiastes stated, there is a time for every matter under heaven. Look for God's guidance through Scripture and prayer in order to make the best use of the time. Go forward with a secure trust in God because he has “declared the end from the beginning” (Isa 46:10). If we look at time with a faithful trust in God, then we will number our days with a heart of wisdom (Ps 90:12) and glorify God because “he has made everything beautiful in its time” (Eccl 3:11).