My Times are in Your Hands

“I want it to go faster!” I told God in frustration, on a cold and wet day in Minnesota. I was driving our family van to my sister’s apartment after class. My outburst was not about the traffic that day. I was slogging my way through what would turn out to be eight years of study in seminary. I was attending part time because I had a busy life as a mom, and the program I was taking only offered a few classes per quarter anyway. Sometimes it seemed as though I would never obtain the degree I knew God had called me to pursue.

A reply arose within me immediately. “Why should it go faster?” I thought for a minute and had to chuckle. “Because I want it to, I guess.” The dialogue ended there, because it was clear that my impatience was not a good reason for God to speed things up.

Time is a concept we think of at the turning of the calendar to the new year.  We have the mistaken notion that we own the time are allotted, and we can waste it, save it, maximize it, any number of ways we think we can massage it. Yet it is the same for everyone, all the time.

How do you feel about time today? Do you see the new year spreading before you as a gift filled with potential? Or does time seem to drag for you, with little to motivate you as you face each morning? Does the new year fill you with dread because of something approaching that you cannot stop?

I have often remembered that lesson from a rainy day while I was in seminary, whenever I need to remember to trust God with all of my days, weeks and years. I also recall that I had to trust God with the timing of so many other aspects of my life: marriage, first career, bearing children, awaiting a call to ministry. God was faithful in every instance, because it was not timing that was at stake. It was trust. I think it was trust that compelled David to write, “My times are in your hands” in Psalm 31.

Whether time seems to rush too quickly or move agonizingly slow, God is present in every moment. And God is for me, for all of us, in every time of our lives. God’s love is what matters, and it fills our lives with meaning at all times.  Whether we are impatient or bored, motivated or depressed, we can fill our time with loving others and loving God. We can approach every day with an open heart, knowing that God will love us and teach us as we willingly receive the gifts freely offered.

In retrospect, the time it took for me to complete my master’s degree was exactly right for my career and family. Graduating a year earlier or a year later would have made things difficult. And eight years also granted me the time to develop some life skills and maturity I needed for ministry. Recognizing this has deepened my trust in God.

Perhaps these words from M.L. Haskins will encourage you to trust God as you turn the calendar to 2023: “I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I might go safely out into the darkness.’ And he replied, ‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be more to you than a light, and safer than a known way.’”

This essay first appeared in the Spencer Reporter, December 30, 2022.

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