Time for Restoration (2)
The day is Yours, the night also is Yours;
You have prepared the light and the sun.
You have set all the borders of the earth;
You have made summer and winter. Psalm 74.16, 17
Never knew what they had
Susie and I enjoy watching “Antiques Road Show” on our local PBS station. The items people bring in for evaluation are so varied and beautiful – at least, the ones they choose to feature on the program. I’m always amazed at the knowledge of the appraisers, their understanding of the provenance and peculiar details and beauty of the item they’re considering.
I may look at a cabinet, for example, and think it’s interesting or even beautiful, but I’m sure I wouldn’t know why, or whether my judgment was reliable beyond an expression of my own taste.
But what I particularly enjoy about this program is watching the faces of people who learn, through the detailed explanations given by their appraiser, that this old piece of junk they’ve stacked books on for years is really a precious and quite valuable artifact. They never knew what they had, because they didn’t understand what it was.
However, the resolve of every one of them, from that moment on, is to treat this discovered treasure with the respect it deserves. Now that they know what has come into their keeping, they are determined to keep it well, and appreciate it more.
What is time?
The time of our lives is like that. We take our time for granted, which is not to say that we don’t value it. We do, and we try to use it well for all the things we consider to be most important. And hopefully, among those most important matters, the ministry of restoration is beginning to gain more priority of place.
But I suspect that most of us don’t think of time as a precious gift from God, bestowed by our Creator, one moment at a time, with a particular use and purpose in mind. For us, time is just something out there, something everybody has, that we use up, as the moments pass, for whatever matters most to us at the moment, in the confident belief that we’ll always have more time to do more of the same.
But what is time, really? Can you go down to the local grocery store and purchase a box of it? Can you swap some of your time with a friend so that you get better time, or, at least, time you consider to be more valuable?
And what about the time you had yesterday? Where is it? And the time for tomorrow? Why are we so certain it will be here when we need it?
It seems to me that if we understood more about time – what it is, where it’s from, and what it’s for – we might be more diligent in making the most of our time for the work of restoration (Eph. 5.15-17). Time is not only a gift of God, it is a creation of His as well. God does not exist within time; He is eternal and does not experience anything like the succession of moments we know as time. God made time and He gives time to His creatures, one moment at a time, every day of our lives. This makes the time of our lives much more valuable, and more fraught with potential for goodness and glory, than previously we may have understood.
Time exists somehow within God (Acts 17.27, 28) and is dependent, like everything else, upon His upholding Word (Heb. 1.3). Time is not eternal, as secularism teaches. Nor does it come to us waiting for us to define its purpose and best use. Time is from God, given as a gift of God, and intended for the glory of God, however we use it (1 Cor. 10.31).
Time is thus much more precious and valuable than we may have understood. Perhaps we should consider keeping it a little more diligently?
We measure time, from the human perspective, in various ways – seconds, minutes, days, weeks, months, years, and so forth. But these are not true quantitative measurements of some material quantity – like a half gallon jug measures a certain amount of milk. Our measures of time are more on the order of estimates (as we think of the future), experiences (with respect to the present), and records (as we think about the time that is gone by). They describe the time of our lives in terms that allow us to remember, plan, use, and prepare for time efficiently.
All time comes from the Word of God (Jn. 1.1-3), is sustained by the Word of God (Heb. 1.3), and returns – like the talents in Jesus’ parable – to its Creator and true Owner (Rom. 11.34-36). There is as yet no future time, and the time we’ve used up is gone forever; we cannot return to it.
The only time we ever have is the present moment, and each of those is supplied for us, as an act of free grace, by the eternal God and His Word. It makes sense that, since He has given us the ministry of reconciliation – which in our remit involves the work of restoration – and the time in which to do this work, that we would best fulfill the purpose of time, and thus know the greatest benefit of time, by learning to fill more of our time with the work God has given us to do.
God has a precious purpose for the time He gives us – that we might know Him, enjoy His blessings, express His glory, and demonstrate His love. That is, that we might know His restoring and transforming grace working for restoration in and through us in all things. But, for the most part, the human race squanders the time God gives them for merely personal and pragmatic ends.
Our time is not our own, just as we who know Jesus Christ are not our own (1 Cor. 6.19, 20). In time, we were bought with a price, that we might be restored to God and take up the work of restoration Jesus began. What we hardly think of as more than passing moments for temporal endeavors, God creates and bestows as investments of eternal glory, to be used and enjoyed as creatures destined to live with Him forever.
We need to pay more attention to the time of our lives – both in prospect and in actuality – so that we might be wise unto the Lord in making the most of it for the work of restoration.
1. Time and the ministry of restoration both come to us from God. Why?
2. How is the time we’re given each day like the talents in Jesus’ parable (Matt. 25.14-30)?
3. Jonathan Edwards wrote about the importance of improving our time. What do you suppose he meant by that?
T. M. Moore
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