My 14 year old son often gets on my case for saying ‘just a minute’. He doesn’t have anything against the specific words; it’s just that his idea of a minute, and mine, are different. When I say ‘in a minute’ I’m not actually saying that I will be there, do that, in precisely 60 seconds. I usually mean that I’m doing something, and when I come to a convenient stopping point, probably within the next 5-10 minutes, I’ll be ready to listen, watch, play or whatever it is that he wants.
He understands ‘just a minute’ to mean within a few seconds will be fine if ‘immediately’ doesn’t happen to be an option.
Of course when I ask him to clean his room or do his homework, his ‘just a minute’ doesn’t always translate to within seconds either, but can mean that he might think about it sometime within the next week or so.
So time, like many other things, is relative. We want an answer right now, but expect the decision makers to carefully deliberate. We want our tax refunds by the first of February; but if we owe, we wait until April 15th to send the check. The last hour before the weekend starts seems to last forever, but the weekend itself seems to pass by in a matter of hours. And usually when someone asks if you have a minute, you know you’re going to be tied up for a while.
And we do the same thing with God. We expect Him to operate on our time schedule, without realizing that He views things through a different lens than we do. God sees things through the perspective of eternity, rather than in relation to a human lifetime of 80 or so years.
Early in the biblical book of Genesis, we read that God was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. The Genesis events took place several thousand years ago, but scholars generally agree that the account was written in about 1500 B.C. About 1000 years later (450 B.C.), when the book of Chronicles was written, the question was ‘When are we going to see God walking with us again?” It was phrased more like this: I’ve built this temple for Him, but is God really going to dwell on earth with men? Even the heavens, the highest heavens can’t contain Him, so why would I think this temple would be an appropriate dwelling place for Him”. And the accompanying prayer is that God would look favorably on the temple and forgive sinful man.
Fast forward about 600 years (90A.D.) John is writing the Revelation: the account of the vision he has had concerning things to come. He sees the Holy City descending from heaven, and hears a voice proclaiming that the dwelling place of God is once again with man, and He will dwell with them.
Another 1900 or so years have passed since John wrote about his vision, and we’re still waiting. It seems like a long time to us, but when compared to all eternity, that period of 3500 years represents just a tiny dot on the timeline.
As the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’ reminds us, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God's praise than when we’d first begun!” Those 10,000 years are like a minute.
So the next time someone tells you just a minute, you may want to settle back with a good book.
In fact, why not try THE Good Book?
Oops there’s the phone, I’ll be back in just a minute! Happy reading!