God’s time. It’s different than our own time. I can’t help thinking of the old adage, “A watched pot never boils.” Of course, it does – but the progressive steps towards boiling (tiny bubbles on the sides, steam rising) aren’t noticeable to the person who’s been watching the whole time. They arise so gradually that a person thinks, “That was always there, wasn’t it?” Always second-guessing. This is how organic processes work, too. Around my house, we don’t notice that the kids are growing until we look at pictures of them from a month or two ago. Then it’s so very clear that they are.
So often in life, God works in this way. We don’t get what we want – the promotion, the advancement, the religiosity, the spiritual maturity, the “life”, instantly. We don’t get the self-indulgent, instantly gratified finish to our desires in the way that so many things in life give it to us. We want to watch a tv show or movie, we just have to be willing to pay and we can be streaming it immediately to our homes. We want seafood, or fast-food, or Greek food, and we just have to go to the right restaurant (or order in from the right place!). Whatever we want is within our reach. Except for things that require maturation. Maturation takes time. It’s not an overnight thing. Frustratingly so, in many cases (potty-training children included!).
When Jesus compares the growth of the Kingdom of Heaven to seeds growing, in the one case growing by degrees and in the other case growing from a tiny seed into substantial plant-life, this is what He’s getting at. God’s time. Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like.
On the other hand, there are times when God urges us forward when we don’t yet feel ready. Do you remember a time when you were heartbroken at the loss of a loved one – perhaps someone passed away; perhaps someone broke up with you, before you were ready to say goodbye; perhaps moving day came faster than you thought it was going to. There are so many times and situations in life when we’re forced to move on, to go on, to push ourselves forward (one-step-at-a-time). And God works like this, too.
That’s what happened to Samuel when he was still mourning God’s rejection of Saul as king of Israel – his friend and comrade. God sent him to make David king. How many times has God raised people up from a funk that they’ve fallen into, and set them up with new possibilities, new opportunities? In some cases it can feel like giving up, giving over, is the best option… or even the only option… yet God has other plans for the future. He picks me up when I fall down. How about you?
So there are times when God’s time moves slower than ours; there are times when God’s time moves faster than ours. How do we know the difference? The key is not to worry about whether “this” time is one of “these” times or one of “those” times. The key is to learn to move with the rhythm of God’s Holy Spirit, deposited in each of us as the guarantee and guarantor of God’s promise of new creation. The key is to learn to conform our time to His, discerning what He is doing in the midst of Him doing it – not just in retrospect. Let us pray, then, for wisdom; for eyes to see, ears to hear, minds to understand; for His will to be done in His way and at His time. Amen.