Seven to Two
October 20, 2020
“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hand” (Psalm 31:14-15, ESV).
It is always nice to see God’s successes when you’re an oncologist. On his recent evaluation, Rob Fortner demonstrated no trace of myeloma. We had treated him with standard chemotherapy followed by an autologous stem cell transplant. After completing his exam, I asked him, “How long has it been since your transplant, two years?” He smiled, “No, it was 2013 (seven years).” I sat there stunned that time and life had passed so quickly. Nine years with all of the intense moments, all the life stories, all the joy, all the tears. Gone in a blink.
Last night I was speaking with three Christian physicians on a Zoom conference and confessed that one of my true shortcomings is I spend too little time building relationships, as I am constantly pushing to get things done. Though I have many good acquaintances, I have very few friends to whom I can open my heart because I am always focused on moving fast to accomplish good things. Good things get done, but I have missed much relationally; and seven years seems like two.
How is Christ most glorified in the way I spend my time?
I don’t know if the answer to this question is the same for everyone or for every time in our lives. I suspect there are days we should be focused on big hairy audacious goals for God, goals that provide the framework for His great redemptive plan. And I suspect there are days in which we should drop every project to spend relational time with the unexpected divine interruption walking through our door.
God is unlimited by time but has confined His children within its limits to work out His will. It is hard to know how best to spend it. Perhaps God demonstrated the best model for our use of time when Jesus was placed within the same constraints. Though there were incredibly important large gatherings in Jesus’s ministry (Matthew 5-7), and His work of the cross was the most important project in history, almost all of Jesus’ time as human was spent sharing life and love with a very few people. I suspect we should do likewise. I suspect I would be more settled in God’s will if I focused on relationships, reducing my time on projects which honor the world, and pushing hard to complete the projects which glorify His name.
Not to worry about the past and opportunities lost—the past is God’s business. Anything good I might have done in the seven years above could have been accomplished only by the God for whom all time is the present moment.
“How many of ours and our fathers’ years have flowed away through Thy ‘to-day’…But Thou art still the same, and all things of tomorrow, and all beyond, and all of yesterday, and all behind it, Thou hast done to-day.” — St. Augustine, The Confessions
Until I reach You in glory, I am trapped in time. It is You who has so trapped me. Help me to use more of it for good relationships and less for good projects, unless You tell me otherwise.