How Is Jesus Making a Difference In Our Lives? – Week #1: Time

Read Eccl 3:1-11 and Mark 1:14-15 here.

Listen here:

Today we’re talking about a little four-letter word . . . that lasts forever – time.  We’re taking about time today because time is one of the resources that God gives us.  As with everything else we have from God, we are to be good stewards of our time.

40674451_10155998747647872_3751006187563253760_oSo I’ve been saving some time in a bottle.

(Thyme)

(Listen to Jim Croce’s version here.)

Our relationship with time is an odd one.  We try not to waste it, but sometimes we have to kill time.  We try to manage our time, but it so easily gets away from us.  Many of our proverbs about time capture that dilemma:

Tempus fugit – Time flies.

Tempus edax rerum – Time devours all things (Ovid).[1]

Time and tide wait for no one.

Life can sometimes feel like an endless game of Beat the Clock, like the game show in which people have to accomplish certain tasks or solve puzzles before the 60-second clock runs out.

Our relationship with time is often like a battle.

  • We try to slow time down by stopping ourselves from aging and keeping things from changing.
  • We try to speed time up by making things happen in our own timing.
  • We try to cram more into a day than will fit.
  • We try to control time, but it often seems like our calendars and our clocks control us.

The writer of Ecclesiastes tells us that this is a battle we cannot win.  The book begins with a thesis:  “Everything is meaningless” (1:3)  As we read on, we see that what this really means is that life is meaningless without God. Our efforts to control time are meaningless, because God is sovereign over everything, including time.  But if we will trust God with our time, our perspective changes, and we can make peace with time instead of fighting it.  There is a time and a season for everything.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccl 3:1)

We treat time as if it’s a constant that can be measured and contained.  But in the equation of life time is a variable. Einstein demonstrated that time is not constant, it’s relative.[2]  Time, just like light, is affected by gravity. That means that time goes faster the further away you are from the center of the earth.  About ten years ago, some scientists in Colorado used atomic clocks to test Einstein’s theory and they proved that what Einstein said is true.[3]    At higher altitudes, time goes faster than at lower altitudes.  The higher you live, the faster you age. That’s why people who live at the beach are so much more laid back.  No, actually, the change is not really perceptible.  For every foot above ground, the atomic clocks showed that over a 79-year lifetime someone would age about 90 billionths of a second faster.

According to Einstein, If we go fast enough, we can bend time.  This is why in the movie Back to the Future (1985), Doc Brown needed the DeLorean to go 88 miles per hour for him to jump into hyperspeed and travel through time.  Doc’s science was fictional, but it was based on Einstein’s real science.  Sometimes I think we’re rushing around as if our speed will indeed bend time.

Ecclesiastes encourages us to acknowledge that we do not control time.  There is a time and a season for everything.  The section we read lists practically all that happens in the span of a lifetime:  birth and death, planting and reaping, hurting and healing, demolition and construction, sadness and happiness, love and hate.  There is a time and a season for everything, and all of these happen in due season.

We are not always the best judges of what truly needs to be done.  How many of us make to-do lists and then fret at the end of the day over the things on the list that didn’t get done?  What might those lists look like if we prayed first and asked God to guide us? I suspect our lists might be much smaller.  Whether we make lists or not, our prayer for the day can be, “God, help me to accomplish what needs to get done today for your purposes.”  Or we can pray the words of our memory verse for this week from Psalm 31:

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.”            –Psalm 31:14-15a

In this prayer, we acknowledge that we are not in control of time and we surrender our time to God who holds all our time in his hand.  That’s why this is our memory verse for this week.  It’s a verse that reminds us to trust God with our time, and to let Jesus make a difference in our relationship with time.

How do we let Jesus into our relationship with time?

  • Give God some dedicated time in each day.

Putting time with God on our calendars or to-do lists is one way to make sure that all the other things on our list don’t crowd out God.  For some this works best when God is first in the list or first on the schedule.  Others find it works better to put God at the end of the day – no sleep until time with God is done.

  • Keep watching for God throughout the day

God is not just with us in the time we set aside to focus on him.  God is with us throughout the day.

Our reading from Mark today comes from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee.  John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, calling people to turn from their sins and turn to God.  Jesus adds urgency to John’s message by telling us that the time to turn is NOW.  He says, “The time has come.”

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” –Mark 1:15

The kingdom of God is here and now in our time.  Jesus tells us to pay attention because God is here right now.

One problem when we are rushing around and busy trying to control our time is that we can miss out on seeing what God is doing now, in the moment.  Sometimes even the most mundane moments can be God moments.  I had one this past week when we were driving to South Carolina for my brother-in-law Greg’s memorial service.  We stopped for the night at a hotel, and after we got checked in, we were headed out to find Walmart to get something we’d forgotten to pack.  As we passed by the front desk, the desk clerk greeted us and offered help. We told her where we were headed and she told us how to get there.  In most ways, a forgettable moment. Nothing earthshaking was said. No great truths were revealed.  But I had the overwhelming feeling in that moment that God was there and blessing this conversation.  Maybe because we stopped and listened, maybe because she was fully focused on helping us in that moment.  It felt like we made a connection that was deeper than just directions to Walmart. I don’t know exactly what God was doing, but it was a God moment.

We talk a lot about waiting and watching for God during Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas.  We are reminded during that season that Advent means “coming.”  If you were here the first Sunday in January, you might remember that we celebrated Epiphany by reading the story in Matthew about the wisemen who followed the star to Bethlehem, and we each got paper stars with a word on them.  We were supposed to ask God about those words, and find those words in the Bible.  My word was “coming.” In asking God about that word and searching the Bible for it, I found Isaiah 60:22:

  At the right time, I, the Lord, will make it happen.”

That verse has been the cover photo on my Facebook page ever since. It’s similar to what Ecclesiastes says in verse 11 . . .

“God makes everything beautiful in its time.” –Eccl 3:11

Our lives are filled with so many things.  Ultimately what will last from our earthly life?  Our relationships.  Our relationship with God and with people.  Last weekend, my husband Rob and I went to the memorial service in South Carolina for his brother Greg.  Greg had had a lot of struggles in his life – with his health, and with jobs.  He was a truck driver, and I always thought he must be lonely a lot. Not long before he died, he said that he regretted never having kids because he felt he had no legacy.  But it turns out he did have a legacy.  After Greg died, we started hearing from all of the people with whom Greg had made connections.  It turns out that he took the time to call and visit his cousins, his old friends from high school, and his former neighbors, and he made new friends as he traveled.  Greg left the best kind of legacy there is – time spent on relationships.

Relationships are vital because it’s through our relationships that we have the opportunity to help people know how much God loves us.  We talked a few weeks ago about the need to tell people about the difference that Jesus is making in our lives.  To be able to do that, Jesus needs to be making a difference in us.  How is Jesus is making a difference in our relationship with time?

Our memory verse is about trusting God with our time:

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand.” –Psalm 31:14-15a

I’m inviting you to make this statement:

I’m committing to trusting God with my time.

…and to consider what steps you will take in living out that commitment:

This week I will:

How will you trust God with your time this week?  How will you let Jesus make a difference in your relationship with time this week?

If you’d like to share your response, you can put that in the comments below.  If you live near Sterling and can get to one of our small group meetings, there’ll be time to talk about how we’re answering that call to commitment.

“God makes everything beautiful in its time.” –Eccl 3:11

We do not know what will happen tomorrow.  We do not know when our time will be up.  But God is working in our time and in our hearts. So listen to Jesus’ words to us today.  Now is the time.  Turn from your sins and believe the good news of the gospel.  Turn to God now, today, and let him be a part of all your moments from now on.

“God has planted eternity in our hearts.” –Eccl 3:11

God has given us time in a bottle, all of our moments and all of eternity, through the gift of his Son Jesus Christ.

_____

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tempus%20edax%20rerum

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Time_dilation

[3] https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/einsteins-theory-is-proved-and-it-is-bad-news-if-you-own-a-penthouse-2088195.html

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