Trust Divine Time

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.

Believe, Then See

Faith often requires strong spiritual muscles and keen inner sight, especially when life moves in ways we haven’t directed. In such moments, we seek proof that things will work out just as we would wish them. Often we want exact answers and assurance which passes all description and all understanding.

I imagine we in the 21st century want this just as much as people did in the 1st century, as they followed Jesus the Christ, the Wayshower, to hear his wisdom. When they meet him in John 6:30-32, they seek quick, easy answers to their life struggles. In particular, they want Jesus to prove that he is who he says he is and that what he preaches is the Truth. They also want proof of God’s existence.

The people ask Jesus: “What sign are you going to give us then, so we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing? Our ancestors ate manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus replies, “Very truly, I tell you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from Heaven, but it is my Father [one of Jesus’s names for God] who gives you the true bread from Heaven.”

Even as the people speak of God and attempt to embrace Jesus’s teaching, they seek proof. At this phase of their spiritual journey, their faith is developing. While they may wish to believe, they aren’t yet grounded enough in their own inner faith to trust that they’ll see some things when they believe them. Not the other way around.

It’s as if this group expects Jesus to perform a magic trick and make manna appear from the sky. As if Moses did it, and Jesus now can replicate it. This is our challenge, too, when we seek assurance from the magic of life, rather than from its awe, wonder and mystery.

Because there’s a difference. One entertains and intrigues, although it never fully assures. After we’re entertained, we still want answers, proof of how the magic trick worked.

Developing faith wants all the answers without doing the prayer work, spiritual study, mental and emotional housecleaning, and personal reflection. It cannot accept the unknown, not yet revealed.  “Wave a magic wand, Jesus,” the people seem to say. “Show us God right in front of us so we’ll believe it. Then we’ll know what you say is true.”

Developing seekers can’t completely lay it all down on the altar of faith and trust, which is what Jesus guides those of mature faith to do. They want Jesus to somehow channel God, as if that were possible, and give them the answers to all life’s mysteries and their own personal road map, noting specifically all the twists and turns, with specific directions about how to avoid all the failures, pitfalls, dragons and dens of fire.

In other words, it’s as if the people say: “We’ll believe when you show it to us the way we want to see it.”

If, blessed reader, you’re struggling a bit with this, be comforted in knowing: This teaching isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an extra-ordinary teaching which invites us to consider the depths of our own inner, personal faith. It invites us to consider that what Jesus tells his 1st century followers is what we’re still attempting to learn in the 21st century: That God is with us and within us, even when we can’t fully see, feel or comprehend it. As if Jesus says: ”God is present and active in your lives. Believe it and trust it, with all the faith already within you. Because when you believe it, then you’ll see it.”