In the process of writing my last post, I wondered what it must be like to have a different perception of time than we have.
I still wonder that, and I’ve chewed on it for a few days now.
[note: I still don’t get it.]
Time’s a funny thing, though – isn’t it?
In the creation account, it says that God created the world in 6 days, and rested on the 7th. People debate whether those were literal 24-hour days, or if it is an extension of the concept that a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day. Some people reject the creation story on account of the true age of the earth (science tells us it’s millions or billions of years old while young earthers want us to think it’s only a few thousand. Who knows? God is God – He could have created an old earth only a few thousand years ago. That’s part of the mystery, no?)
The creation account puts God’s relationship to time in a unique perspective – it gives us a glimpse of how quickly and expansively God can and does work. If you take it literally, then God created the earth and everything in it in 6 days.
144 hours (it takes me two weeks to work 144 hours, and in that time all I do is make a bunch of coffee and wash a bunch of dishes.)
8,640 minutes (the length of time it takes me to get out of bed 864 times, make 1,728 pots of coffee, approximately 800 trips to the bathroom, etc)
518,400 seconds (the same amount of times I forget to text people back [ie. “just a second!”)
but if God is God, then something tells me that’s not altogether impossible for Him.
Still, what are the implications if they’re not actual days, but another unit of time (say, 1,000 years) that got lost in translation?
Part of me says it doesn’t matter. Another says that it’s a slippery slope – if you start explaining away the literacy of the Bible in certain instances, then where do you stop? What’s our litmus test for deciding what’s literal and what’s not? How is the story of Jesus – His life, death, and resurrection – any less metaphorical or symbolic than the creation account?
Regardless – the point is that God has some different relationship to time than we seem to. And that makes for a remarkable if sometimes frustrating life with Him, because for God, time is an inextricable part of His work. God is not a microwave God, regardless of how badly we want Him to be – you can’t heal in days or even weeks, you can’t change your habits quickly, you don’t get over your sin nature quickly, you can’t magically understand the Bible in a day. (oh, and news flash: even the things you do understand one day may make zero sense in a few weeks.)
No, if we keep up the analogy of God as a cooking instrument, then He seems to be more of a slow cooker God – maybe even set on “warm,” not even “low.” Our waiting is a big part of His work.
Abraham waited for his promised descendant until he was over 90 years old.
The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert.
When Jericho was taken, it was taken after marching around the city six times.
Hannah waited through years of barrenness (and watching her husband’s other wife and her children get gifts from her husband) to have Samuel.
The world waited 400 years to hear God again, and to receive a Savior (everything that was promised 400 years earlier.)
Jesus waited 30 years to start ministry.
He’s waiting now to come again.
Waiting is just a part of it.
What’s that mean for us?
It means: don’t give up. Hold fast. It means that what God has promised, God will do in His time. It means that it’s okay for prayers to (seemingly) hit the ceiling for a while – it doesn’t mean that God’s not listening; in fact, often times it means He’s working. It means that often times God’s right next to us in our suffering and our waiting, and we’re so tired that we can’t see it. It means that God is working for a greater, sweeter, truer reality than anything we could accomplish or that could be accomplished for us if the timing were up to us.
It means that God is uprooting things in us that need to be uprooted; He’s revealing things to us that need to change in our hearts before His fruit can come forth.
In baseball, the goal is to get on base; but you have to wait for the right pitch to hit. You won’t get on if you’re swinging at bad pitches.
In bread-baking, the dough has to rise before it’s ready to bake. You won’t get good bread if you don’t wait.
Artists have to spend inordinate amounts of time on little details of their work in order to make the whole things beautiful (such as finishing a hat.)
To borrow the old cliche – good things are worth the wait; and good things don’t come often without waiting.