“You don’t get to know the time. Timing is the Father’s business.” (The Message)
Throughout the bible Jesus makes it real clear that we are not to concern ourselves with the “when” question. Don’t quote me on this, but in my recollection the only “when” question he really addresses is when he says (numerous) times that the Kingdom of Heaven is now, or here, or at hand. God’s most consistent response to our constant questioning about timing and the future is to direct us back to the present.
C.S. Lewis brilliantly addresses this theological issue (as well as many others) in his book The Screwtape Letters. This is a satirical book written as correspondence between a senior demon and one of his trainee demons who is attempting to secure the damnation of a man. In one of the letters, the senior demon explains that God’s desire is for humans to attend first to eternity and next to the present – the point at which time touches eternity.
The demon’s advice against keeping man from living in the present is this:
“We [from the demon’s perspective] want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.”
In God’s design our concern for the future serves only to direct our lives in the present. But how often is this true? We are too easily swayed to attend chiefly (sometimes solely) to the future. We question and plan for that which is not here or now. And in the midst of that thinking we miss the real gifts offered us in the Present.
Have you given your heart to the future? Is the majority of your energy directed there? Are you missing the gift of life God is offering you now due to anxiety, or even hope, for the future? I know this is more often true for me than I’d like to admit.
“God has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to the end.” -Ecclesiastes 3:11