But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.” (NIV)
We are servants, sometimes slaves, to our electronic devices; we are slaves to our watches, smart phones, ipads, alarm clocks, and calendars. And a few of us allow these man-made gadgets to rule our days, pushing us forward hurriedly, pressuring us to do more and do it faster. Wherever we are we find ourselves watching the clock relentlessly tick away as reminders of how far we have yet to go and how little time we have to get there. No wonder people are so impatient. Our impatience has caused companies and corporations to invent and/or create different products that are designed to assist us in maintaining and managing our time each day.
Yet with these brand new pretty and shiny gadgets designed to help maximize our time God’s children still appear at times to be stumbling through life. Many of us feel as if somehow we have been demoted and overlooked by life, when in fact, every step we take and every move we make is carefully planned; God Himself is orchestrating all our circumstances and endeavors. When this happens we need to stop for moment to realize that God is in control. No matter how bad things may look at the moment—He is in control!
Here in the 31st Psalm, David is declaring that his entire life is in God’s hand. He makes it known in no uncertain terms that it is God’s timing and not his; it is God’s call upon his life goes according to God’s calendar and not his. Notice that David says, “But I trust in you…” his life was being threatened, to have someone threatened your very life would be extremely scary, it would indeed place most of us on edge for sure—but David says I’m not really worried about it because no one can harm me unless God allows it—he seems to refer back to the 23rd Psalm a little bit when he says, “You are my God” just like you are my Shepherd, and because of this I shall fear no evil. When consider the fact that our times are in God’s hands, we also need to understand that His time is not our time. Because God often moves slower than we do, yet God always has us at the right place at the right time and absolutely nothing slips out of His hand. With God, there is never a wasted moment—He knows beforehand what we will face and go through; He is there before we get there in order to work it out for us. This is why David was so confident, this is why he said, “But I trust you…” what if we all could be like David in times of trouble? The answer is…we can. David was not the only one who knew that his time was in God’s hands.
1. Job Knew That His Times Was In God’s Hands
In Job 14: 5 we read, “A person’s days are determined; you have decreed the number of his months and have set limits he cannot exceed.” (NIV) Have you ever been there? When it seems as if time is just wasting away—and you have not made the progress you thought you should have made by now? Job was suffering and he had no idea what was happening to him and why it was happening to him. By the time we reach the 14th chapter of Job we see that Job was starting to panic. He panic not only because of what he was going through, he panic because time was passing by and there was no remedy in sight—now I did not say there was no remedy, but I did say that the remedy was not in sight. When we are walking through a dense dark valley and we don’t see the Light at the end of the valley. It can and quite often does cause us to panic.
I have a dear friend who has reached the September of his life, and he was on the verge of panic one day because he felt that he lived his entire life with nothing to show for it. However, when he was reminded of how many people lives he touched he became clear to him that his life did have purpose. Although Job was in panic mode, although he was indeed suffering he never once blamed God for his suffering and he also knew that God provided his only hope for restoration. He knew that whatever it was that he was going through he still was in God’s hands. We need to get to a place in our lives where when pain, suffering, and trouble come we don’t panic. We have to say like, “But I trust God…” we must trust the providence of God and we must trust His timing. We all want good things to happen in our lives, but too often we want it now...not later. When it doesn’t happen that way, we are tempted to ask, "When, God, when?" Most of us need to grow in the area of trusting God instead of focusing on the "when" question. If you’re missing joy and peace, you’re not trusting God. If your mind feels worn out all the time, you’re not trusting God. If you feel moved to take things into your own hands you are certainly not trusting God. There has never been a time in my when I had foolishly decided to take matters into my own hands (and I have) that ever succeeded when doing so. I always fell flat on my face, and suffered for it. The late Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. (not Junior) once said, “If you ever want to learn how to trust God suffering will do it”, my experiences of trying to take matters in my own weak hands was a blessing because it taught me not try to work it out quicker and faster than God.
What if Job tried to handle his situation on his own? What if he had followed his wife’s and his so-called friends foolish advice? The devil would have been given bragging rights and God would have actually lost the challenge. But God knew Job; it was God who brought Job’s name up in the first place. Question. Can God trust you and I in the manner he trusted Job do to the right thing? We who feel that the end of time is upon us do have a tendency to push things and to force things and to flail and fight in an attempt to make things happen. But you can’t do that. You remember the story of the little boy who was playing outdoors and found a fascinating caterpillar. He carefully picked it up and took it home to show his mother. He asked his mother if he could keep it, and she said he could if he would take good care of it.
The little boy got a large jar from his mother and put plants to eat, and a stick to climb on, in the jar. Every day he watched the caterpillar and brought it new plants to eat. One day the caterpillar climbed up the stick and started acting strangely. The boy worriedly called his mother who came and understood that the caterpillar was creating a cocoon. The mother explained to the boy how the caterpillar was going to go through a metamorphosis and become a butterfly.
The little boy was thrilled to hear about the changes his caterpillar would go through. He watched every day, waiting for the butterfly to emerge. One day it happened, a small hole appeared in the cocoon and the butterfly started to struggle to come out. At first the boy was excited, but soon he became concerned. The butterfly was struggling so hard to get out! It looked like it couldn’t break free! It looked desperate! It looked like it was making no progress! The boy was so concerned he decided to help. He ran to get scissors, and then walked back (because he had learned not to run with scissors…). He snipped the cocoon to make the hole bigger and the butterfly quickly emerged! As the butterfly came out the boy was surprised. It had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings. He continued to watch the butterfly expecting that, at any moment, the wings would dry out, enlarge and expand to support the swollen body. He knew that in time the body would shrink and the butterfly’s wings would expand.
But nothing happened. The butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never had the chance to be what it was designed to be. It never was able to fly. As the boy tried to figure out what had gone wrong he learned later on that the butterfly was SUPPOSED to struggle. In fact, the butterfly’s struggle to push its way through the tiny opening of the cocoon pushes the fluid out of its body and into its wings. Without the struggle, the butterfly would never, ever fly. The boy’s good intentions hurt the butterfly—our good intentions can do the very same thing to us, when we decide to work on our time instead of God’s time. Job knew that his times was in God’s hands, and so did Moses.
2. Moses Knew That His Time Was In God’s Hands
In Acts 7: 20 – 22 we read, “At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child. [a] For three months he was cared for by his family. When he was placed outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him and brought him up as her own son. Moses was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in speech and action.
Moses had everything going for him, to begin with, when he was born he was no ordinary child—in other words, he was born with many good characteristics. For three months he was nourished in his family’s house, and even there was deep trouble in the land God had a plan for him the very moment he was born. It was God who caused the enemies daughter to find this little three-month-old baby floating in an ark, it was God who orchestrated her taking this baby into a palace and treating him as if he were her own child. In fact, God even arranged it that Moses biological mother should care for him, but later he was exposed to all of what Egypt was about. While in the palace he was refined and cultured—he had more than anybody in the world could possibly have or dream of having. However, when he was about 40 years he finally discovered that the children of Israel were his people—when he saw one of his fellow Israelites being beaten everything changed. He defended the man he saw the Egyptian beating on one his brothers and so he picked up something and smashed the Egyptian in the head and killed man which placed him on Egypt’s most wanted list; from that time on he went from a somebody to a nobody. That’s right, Moses became a nobody at least in the eyes of the Egyptians. In fact, one-third of his life was spent as a nobody.
From an Egyptian prince to a nobody, he once lived in a palace but now he lives on the backside of the desert. In the backside of the desert for 40 years, from the time he was 40 to the time he was 80 it seemed as if Moses was just wasting away—in the backside of the desert. I wonder how Moses felt during those lean and between times in the desert? Five years pass by, nobody knows him anymore, ten, twenty, thirty years pass by—all the while he has a death threat over his head because Pharaoh was looking for him. Moses stayed on the backside of the desert so long he didn’t even care anymore. A third of his life was wasted, he watched year after year pass by. He was 80 years old, who starts a career at 80 years old? Who’s making plans at 80? In the economy we have today it appears that employers are considering a person who is 40 years a bit too old for their liking.
But Moses was 80! Surely God was through using him, because he was too old. Remember when I told you that God’s time is not our time? Well listen to this, there are long, drawn out times when you don’t hear the voice of the Lord. Yes, there are times or there will be times when you don’t feel that you are doing anything worthwhile or significant. Nothing but nothing is being accomplished; you’re just there on the backside of the desert all by yourself. But can I tell you that there is a time in your life when God will see that you’re ready. A time when He sees that you have finally surrendered to His will and not your own. A time when the only voice you hear is His voice, I don’t care if you’re 22 or 82 there is a time! Moses thought his life was being wasted, he must of thought at this age it’s too late for me to do anything worthwhile. But the truth is God was letting him ripen because he had a very important assignment for him. His task was to lead the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage pass the Red Sea and towards the Promise Land. Moses thought he would do it at 40 but God waited until he was 80. Moses thought his elite training in the palace would qualify him for the task, but God sent him to school in the wilderness. However, once he finally took the mantle Moses knew that his times were in God’s hands. Job knew this and so did the Apostle Paul.
3. Paul Knew That His Times Was In God’s Hands
Paul took the Gospel to the first century world and is considered by most as the one of the most important and greatest religious leaders of all time. He founded several churches in Asia Minor and Europe. Being a Jew and a Roman citizen made his ministry ideal to reach both Jews and Gentiles with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote more books than anyone, taking up 2/3 of the books. Paul wrote Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, 1st and 2nd Timothy, Titus
Philemon, Hebrews (eventhough the author of Hebrews is not identified).
Although Paul was one the strongest witnesses for the Lord he didn’t start out this way. Before accepting Jesus as his Lord and Saviour Paul (or Saul of Tarsus) persecuted the church and was responsible (although not by his own hand) for the death of a great number of Christians. There is no evidence on him actually killing anyone; not being the executioner. His role during the persecution was more like a law enforcer officer/marshal with duties to find, arrest, and bring to the "justice" the Christians. He consented on the death of Stephen and obtained authority orders to find more Christians to be subject to similar deaths. He traveled down the road to Damascus to carry out his orders. However, the Lord struck him down while on his way.
When the Lord struck Paul blind and he was groping to find out where he was and who he was, God can strike us down if He feels it necessary to achieve His purpose for us. He can take away all our senses in one swipe. In Paul’s case it was his sight, along with his awareness of he was and what he was about to do. The Lord spoke to Paul through the prophet Ananias and said, “Ananias, I want you to go find Saul of Tarsus and lay your hands on him and pray for him. Ananias sensed inadequacy and apprehension, he knew about the former life of Saul, the terrible sin and shame, the threat that he was to Christians. Ananias answered, “Lord, this man is dangerous. He has a reputation for killing Christians. And you want me to lay on hands on him and pray for him?” The Lord answered Ananias’ apprehension with the Words, “He is a chosen vessel unto Me. I will show you how great things he must suffer for My name’s sake. I have chosen him. I have called him to go and preach name before the Gentiles and kings and the nation of Israel. He is My chosen vessel, I chose him to suffer” (Acts 9: 10 – 16).
When God chooses us, when we become His chosen vessel, we are clearly in His hands. Job was chosen to suffer, Moses was chosen to lead, and Paul (Saul) was chosen to suffer and preach. The book of Job itself mentions "days" and "months" of suffering, implying that the sickness extended at least several months’ time. When Paul converted, he went down into Arabia; and for three and one-half years, he prayed before God, studied the Holy Scriptures, and prepared himself. Moses had a 40-year crash course in the backside of the desert. God allows waiting and maturing before He uses us at our highest potential and the meanwhile He is ever-watching and nurturing us. The truth is, if you are a child of God you are chosen to suffer! Why? Because our times are in His hands.
In saying, "My times are in your hands." David was expressing his belief that all of life’s circumstances are under God’s control. Knowing that God loves and cares for us enables us to keep steady in our faith regardless of our circumstances. It keeps us from sinning foolishly by taking matters into our own hands or resenting God’s timetable." And so, what if you never get recognized? What if you never get any publicity whatsoever? What if the pastor refuses to use you during the Church service? Does that mean you don’t work for God? Because no one is suppose to work for God or be faithful to God with the desire to get credit for it. I know that there are those in the Church today who are doing just that, in fact, if they are not recognized in the manner they feel they should be recognize they will eventually move to another Church and seek recognition there. We are suppose to serve God because He is God…Not because He heals our sickness…not because He forgives us of our sins…not because He supplies our daily needs…but just like David, Job, Moses, and Paul. We are to love Him and serve Him just because He is God. We should never have to worry about being in God’s will—in times of trouble, suffering and distress being in God’s will is the absolute best place to be. And what a blessing it is to know that your times, your days, your service are all in God’s hands. Amen.