Take the long view

As we live our Christian life, we are likely to be disappointed if we are looking for rapid results. We sow, we water – but God grows. His wisdom and knowledge are infinitely greater than ours and he works beyond time. So, how does our belief in eternity affect our understanding of time on earth now?

The psalmist says, “… a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday…” (Psalm 90:4), reminding us that God’s time is not human time which is, after all, based on how long it takes our planet to spin on its axis. As we are also reminded in Psalm 90, “The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty if we are strong”: that timespan inevitably colours and constrains everything we do. So how does the eternal and everlasting nature of our God change our perspective?

One instance, when I became acutely aware of this relative meaning of time, was at the votes for the Ordination of Women to the Episcopate. As a staunch supporter of the proposed legislation, I was deeply disappointed at the outcome of the first vote in General Synod. “You prayed, held your vigil, now God has given you the answer,” a friend told me. But the time frame of the Church, never mind God’s time, is different from ours. Our first women bishops were ordained five years later.

When we seek to do God’s will, it seems important to me that we submit to him in time as well as space or circumstances. That way, we are allowing God to work out his mercy and grace and, importantly, allowing God to work through our weaknesses and failures.

A good illustration of this is the story of David and Bathsheba. I shudder every time I read about the atrocious behaviour of David. Also disturbing is the thought that David continued to flourish and find favour with God afterwards. One message we can take from this story is about repentance – God can forgive anything if we are truly penitent.

But it is also about God’s time frame; taking the long view, one can see that in the eternity of rolling time, one failure is as the blink of an eye to God.

Time is a complex idea. Even Einstein talked about the relativity of time. Of course we have all experienced how time seems to go quickly on occasions, and sometimes drags! St Peter in his second letter (3:8) urges us “… do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day.” That might help us understand eternity and Jesus’ promise of eternal life a little better. Aligning ourselves with God’s eternity would also help us keep the relentless time pressures of daily lives in context.

Words: Dr Anna Thomas-Betts

All of us can begin to live the power of the resurrection. In a recent blog post, Bishop Steven encouraged us to: “Celebrate your resurrection each and every day.”

Page last updated: Thursday 6th July 2023 12:25 PM
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