In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. 16 God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day. - Genesis 1:1-5, 14-19
God created time to help bring order to our lives. Day and night was established to mark sacred times, and days and years (v. 14). Do you ever marvel at God's desire for order and structure instead of chaos? Time brings order to our lives and exists to help us align our hearts, minds, tasks, and all things before God.
Time was Created for Man
God exists both within and outside of time- all at the same time. This can be difficult to ponder. For God to create time, He had to already be existing outside of time. Once he created time, He was both within and outside of time- as God does not abandon His creation or works.
As created beings made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), God ordained that we live, work, and worship within a structure called, "time." When God created time, He saw it was good (Gen. 1:19). His whole work of creation was completed in 7 days. Have you ever considered that days did not exist prior to creation? Even the existence of days point us toward God and many of His perfect attributes! What a perfectly wise God we serve and worship!
The Fall of Man
Those familiar with the creation account in the beginning of Genesis are aware that by chapter 3, Adam and Eve fell into sin. Sin brought a curse that affected all of creation, including man and time (Gen. 3:17-19
). Since then, all of creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. (Romans 8:22)
Taking a Good Thing too Far
Often in our fallen, sinful, world, time can seem to become a burdensome yoke or restrictive slave master. This was not God's original design. While time exists to help bring order to our lives, we can easily take orderliness too far- to a point where it can dominate our thoughts, actions, and attention. When this happens, our relationship with God is the first to suffer.
Sin has warped how we see and utilize time in our daily lives. It has caused activities, others-focused priorities, and self to usurp God's #1 place in our moment-to-moment lives.
Sadly, in our culture, doing things (whether to please God or self) often take priority over the abiding, deepening, relationship that God desires to have with us on a moment-by-moment basis. When this happens, time can easily become an idol. Activities on to-do lists are exalted before time with God, and our flesh becomes the driver of our lives instead of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. When this happens, and happens with increasing frequency, our awe and wonder of God, His power, perfections, and other attributes, are dimmed- often to a point where God may seem distant or even irrelevant. Time, and the act of filling our time to accomplish things, replaces a deepening relationship with the Holy, Perfect, Sovereign, Mighty God of all.
When Attention to Time Overpowers the Holy Spirit
Have you ever been in a time of corporate prayer or worship (where two or more are gathered in prayer) that ended seemingly before the Holy Spirit had finished the work He was doing in that time? Maybe somebody began repeatedly interjecting the word, "Amen" into the prayer meeting in hopes it would end so they could leave for their next activity. Maybe the meeting was forced to end because the prayer leader had somewhere else they felt they or others needed to be at that time. Or maybe the Holy Spirit was halted early in doing a ministering work because there was another church service to follow (and it was expected to begin on time). Maybe a service was on the verge of becoming too long compared to how some attendees were conditioned to stay. The Holy Spirit was chased away due to somebody's set time schedule. Sadly, these kind of things happen more than we'd care to admit.
The Holy Spirit does not often perfectly fit into our schedules, our set-aside times with Him, or the clock on the wall. What if He desires to minister to or through you beyond, or outside, of your scheduled quiet time? Will you let Him, or will you permit your other priorities to quench Him?
Some Pertinent Reminders:
God is sovereign (He can freely choose to do whatever He pleases whenever it pleases Him to do so).
God is our King. He engages us as He pleases. Who are we to dictate to Him when He should meet with us?
God is not restricted by time.
His ways are above our ways!
He sees the past, present, and future all at the same time.
He knows how He will resolve the meeting, service, or appointment that He'll make you late for- if you stay with Him until He's finished meeting with you. He also knows how He'll glorify Himself to or through you if you'll let Him complete what He desires to do in that moment. Will you trust Him to do so and permit Him to complete the deeper work in you He desires to do?
He knows how He will adjust your circumstances (in ways only He can) so that you'll completely receive what He desires you to hear or experience when you're deeply in prayer, meditation, relationship, or worship with Him. Will you stay with Him long enough to permit Him to do so?
God is a Perfect Gentleman. Because He is, so is Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. He will not force us to be in communion, meditation, or worship beyond whatever else or whom we prioritize before Him. He allows us to choose others before Him- but at our own loss.
The Spirit always ministers in the present moment. He can not be delayed, DVR'ed, or Tivoed (recorded, and then watched/listened to at a different time)!
The Holy Spirit can be quenched (doused, chased away, grieved). Through disobedience, prioritization of others or other things before God, the Spirit can be quenched or grieved.
We can miss much, if not all, of what the Spirit may desire to teach or do. This can happen by boxing God into specified appointed times in our schedules. If we're inflexible with aligning our schedules with God's, we miss out on God's best for us in that moment and afterward.
Liberty Within Prayer
During corporate prayer and worship (where two or more are together doing so), it could be made known to all in advance that all in attendance have liberty to come and go as they please. This permits the Holy Spirit to continue His work within that time until He's finished with those He's ministering to or through- should they choose to wait for Him.
He extends liberty to us in each moment- to choose whether we'll invite or ask Him to fill, use us, or show us anything we're missing in that moment. As a Perfect Gentleman, He always leaves the decision up to us. That's liberty (for better or worse)!
When the Lord has completed showing, teaching, or doing what He desires, He'll release you to your next assignment, activity, etc. He is trustworthy!
Keeping the First Thing the First Thing
Psalm 24:1 says,"The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,the world, and all who live in it."
We belong to God. We are created to be in constant relationship with Him. He desires our attention, affection, worship, joy, meditation, lives, hearts, minds; all of us, always to be centered upon and within Him. Time belongs to God. The clock gives structure to our days and nights, but He should always rule over time- the time He's given us to live, serve, love, and worship.
Aligning ourselves with God will help us see Him more completely, and catch the greater depths of relationship He desires to have with us. This is sometimes referred to as redeeming the time.
Let's redeem the time well and yield to the Holy Spirit in His timing!
Lord, you are my all-in-all. Everything I have and am is Yours. The time you've given me this day belongs solely to You. Thank you for giving me this day and night ahead. I desire to utilize the time you've given me in fellowship with You- even while I work, serve, and do all things as unto You. Have Your way in me and through me. Help me to realize things I hold on too tightly to, and grasp You more fully in my heart, mind, life, and soul. Be glorified and magnified in this day. Teach me Your ways and show me greater depths of Your heart for me and others. You are the One I seek. I worship You. In Jesus' name, Amen.