My Father is always at his work.
Conventional wisdom boasts that time is money. What sociologists refer to as the "poverty of time", that is, the illusion that there isn't enough time, propels most of us to place a valuation on the ticks of the clock. Our cultural conditioning to relentlessly pursue productivity, goals, mission, purpose, and other aspirations usually slots our time expenditures in one of two categories: purpose driven time, and, wouldn't you know it, wasted time. Sure, there are ambiguous categories of leisure, rest, refreshment, and preparation that enhance our struggle for results. But, most of us have a sense about what is productive and what is not. Few of us want to squander the precious time allotments that define life. Who wants to spend their days wasting time?
Many years ago I heard a devotional thought presented by Dr. Avery Willis during one of the many MasterLife training events in our state. He referenced the day Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the critical opposition he received from the religious traditionalists who witnessed the miracle. The focal point Dr. Willis identified in the short message was John 5:17. He used the NIV.
In his defense Jesus said to them, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I
too am working."
John 5:17, NIV
The impact of this verse on my life and personal valuation of time was profound. His treatment of this text reminded me that "my Father is always at his work". Translation? There is no waste of time. God never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4). What is more, "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28). Knock me down! It was the realization that my human valuation of time was flawed. It was time for me to sync my human clock to his.
Looking in the rear-view mirror gave evidence of many moments when God was right in the middle of frustrating times that seemed to be a total waste. Let me illustrate just one of them. When I graduated from The Citadel I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, to begin my first career with North Carolina National Bank. I was blessed to rent a beautiful garage apartment and had scheduled my move-in date and time. When I arrived with my car load of stuff the previous tenant had not completed her move out of the apartment. I remember the impatience and aggravation of waiting for her to complete her tasks. As I walked up the stairs when she had finished, she introduced me to her friend who was assisting her that day. Her friends name was Harriet Thomas. That first meeting, on the steps up to that garage apartment, wasn't very sociable. I was brusque and somewhat rude. For me, those two hours of waiting was a complete waste of time. Forty-six+ years later Harriet and I laugh about it. In that waste of time I met the beautiful young woman who would become my wife just two years later. Let's not talk about a waste of time.
Of course, there are many others, occasions that appeared to be of little value where something momentous occurred. Those episodes sharpened my awareness of God's work in my life. As a result, my knowing his presence in those more distasteful minutes and hours has been elevated. He truly is working in all things.
One day I was sitting the parking lot of a jammed I-26. It was an early Monday morning and I was driving to a downtown hospital for prayer with a church member having surgery. We sat totally still for forty minutes. I was exasperated, even angry. Then, my old cell phone rang. It was my friend Bob Hammond in his pick-up truck several cars behind me. He told me that my Sunday sermon had been among the most influential sermons he had heard in years. He quoted Scripture and then prayed for me. What a blessing. God was working in that congested highway too.
Syncing my clock to his has helped me realize that my Father is always at his work. Even when my poor human valuation of time has marked a moment as a waste. It may have been one of the realizations that pressed the Apostle Paul to write, "Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time..." (Ephesians 5:15-16, ESV). It was a first century reminder about syncing our clocks to Gods. He is always working.
Waste of time? Perhaps, in the human system. Not in God's timing, however. For our Father is always at His work. You know, always.
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