Remember the text from Ecclesiastes 3: “For everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven”? I like to imagine the Pauline writer (some biblical scholars aren’t convinced it was actually Paul) of Ephesians 5:15-19 knew that text when he wrote: “Be careful . . . how you live . . . making the most of the time. . . . [U]nderstand what the will of the Lord is. . . . Be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs . .”
Most people, when asked, say they want more time for something. Though, I’ve noticed on my to-do list, as perhaps you have, blessed reader, that we often schedule more time for things we imagine we “should” do, rather than things we truly enjoy, such as singing, dancing, playing, stopping to watch the sunset or taking a dip in the pool. As if, when we complete all the “shoulds” – if that were truly possible – then we could play and rejoice. The 1st century text reminds us that even though we have more technology than our ancestors, we in the 21st century share the same heart desire to enjoy our lives.
Rejoicing, as so much else in life, requires that we be centered in faith and trust. Because as much as we may plan things on our personal calendars or to-do lists, life doesn’t always work according to our schedules. So, rather than rejoice, we may feel angry, resentful, frustrated and depleted.
If we’re tied to our human calendar, rather than the divine calendar, or what some call “divine time,” we actually erode own spiritual life, our personal bedrock, because that’s our relationship with God. Trusting in divine time, rather than human time, requires tremendous faith. It means trusting that the universe moves in divine ways, which have little to do with our personal plans, goals, ideas and beliefs – and most important – our personal will.
Which gets us to the heart of the Ephesian Writer’s practical advice as we strive to live faithfully. Because we’re created in Unconditional Love, with Infinite Compassion, by a Divine Creator, a Spiritual Source many call God, which gives us a gift of privilege and freedom to use our time as we want. We call this free will.
However, if we’re disconnected from God as our Source, we’re more likely to run our lives with our personal will, on our personal schedule. Rather than living on divine time, and staying open and flexible when circumstances aren’t moving as we might desire, we try to direct the whole universe.
A subtle and insidious effect of wanting to direct the universe is saying something such as: “Where’s God in all this?” “What’s God doing about this?” “When will God fix this?” Or maybe we don’t even say that. Maybe we just feel hopeless, numb, exhausted and disconnected. And although some people may say they don’t feel God’s Presence, that isn’t God’s fault. It’s ours. Because God is Presence and Present; all we need to do is remember and reconnect to Source.
When we cross the line into trying to direct the entire universe, we enter dangerous territory, because we stop trusting that God is the Source of all. The extraordinary part of this simple teaching, which isn’t always easy to master, is that as we release our personal will, schedules and to-do lists, we actually surrender to God and divine time. As we align ourselves with God, we feel God’s love and compassion more fully – even when life doesn’t unfold exactly as we like. Then we trust: For everything there is a season, and we rejoice, making the most of our own precious time.