[This is part two of a seven-part conversation about how God gives us enough time to finish our lives well, but just enough time. If you’d like to begin at the beginning… or if you would rather, you can see the entire essay at barneywiget.com.]
John 9:4 “As long as it’s day we must work the work of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work.”
John 11:9 “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light.”
John 12:35 “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going.”
When I was newly facing the bleak reality of a medically incurable disease in my bloodstream I began a pretty serious musing about my mortality and came upon these words of Jesus. I was thinking about all the things I still wanted to do while in this body (have grandchildren, teach them to whistle, write several books, tell more people that God loves them, etc.) and started to wonder if I had time to get it all done. I really want to go home and be with Jesus – honestly I do. To see his face in that most exquisite place – what could be better? On the other hand, before transferring to the permanently and profoundly superior place, I want to complete my assignment here in our temporary and inferior place.
There’s an old saying, “The world’s a bridge. The wise man will pass over it, but won’t build his house on it.” My doctor tells me that it’s likely that I’m much closer to the end of the bridge than I used to think I was and, as doctors do, he gave me some projected numbers of years and percentages representing my possibilities. As disconcerting as all that was, my take was that God has his own possibilities and projections. I’m much more inclined to hitch my hopes and prayers to those.
As I seriously ponder my temporariness, these three statements of Jesus give me both comfort and conviction. One day he said, “There’s time,” and then on another he warned, “But not a lot of it.” One eases my fears and tells me that I’ll have enough time to finish what I started. The other provokes me to get on my horse and “ride like Jehu.” I have enough time, but just enough time, if you get my drift.
I want you to think with me about these similar, yet dissimilar, announcements of Jesus about our duties and the daylight available to us in which to finish them.
I propose a synthesis of these passages in two simple sound bytes:
- Don’t be nervous – you’ve got enough time to do what you’re supposed to do, but…
- Don’t be careless – you’ve only got enough time to do what you’re supposed to do
Don’t be nervous – you’ve got enough time to do what you’re supposed to do
- “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world’s light.” John 11:9
The backstory is that Jesus’ disciples were worried about him going back to the place where people had previously threatened his life. He was intent on going to visit his sick friend, Lazarus, but they were against it. They thought it was way too dangerous, but he assured them that he had enough time to do what he was supposed to do. The Father wasn’t going to allow them to crucify him quite yet. “Doesn’t the sun shine for twelve hours? I’ve got time. No one’s going to kill me until it’s the right time for it.”
All along his Father had been telling him what to do, when to do it, and how to do it. This case seemed no exception as he was leading Jesus to go to his sick friend Lazarus and raise him up. So when his friends pleaded with him not to risk it, he vetoed their counsel.
I know that Jesus was God’s only begotten, but I believe the principle is the same for us who follow in his steps as disciples. Of course our mission isn’t in the same league as his, but we’re also “on assignment” for a particular God-planned amount of time to do certain God-pleasing things. And since that’s true, we should trust that he will give us enough time to complete that assignment. When he intends for us to accomplish some task, he gives us time to do it. Makes sense, right?
Wiget’s Free Translation — “Don’t worry about it, I’ve got time before they take me. I’m not worried about it. There’s plenty of daylight left for me to do what I’m supposed to do. The Father is working all this out and giving me the time I need to finish what I started.”
You’ve got to love his serenity, not just about his inevitable death, but about his limited amount of time to do all that the Father wanted him to do! He, who lived the most important life in history, and yet lived such a brief span of time, was at peace with it.
This gives me hope that I have enough time to do whatever it is that I’m supposed to do. (I didn’t say, everything I want to do, unless we’re talking about my wants running parallel to his.) I believe the Sovereign will give me every minute (the kind that includes 60 seconds) that I need to accomplish every minute (the one that sounds like “my newt”) thing he wants me to do.
I’m comforted that he has my days counted and logged somewhere. (If we can back up our digital data on “The Cloud,” I assume he has some safe and remote location in the clouds for his records.) Though I’m not privy to that number of days or the location where the number is kept, I’m content knowing that he knows these things. He’ll give me enough time to finish my assignment here – definitely no less and probably no more (but we’ll talk about that later).
Next: Sometimes we go into overtime…