My dad has a phrase I’ve used a lot in the past couple decades: “He’s the God of 11:59.” In other words, God intervenes in our lives when He’s supposed to, at our time of deepest need—not when we think He ought to show up, or when it would be easiest for us. Those who constantly take faith-filled risks live in 11:59. The rest of us would do well to remember that 11:59 might, in fact, be the best place to live our lives.
Peter wrote the following about the Day of the Lord, but I believe it applies pretty well on this day, too: “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:8-9).
What I interpret as God’s slowness in making my life less stressful is, rather, His patience in waiting for me to repent and be willing to live in 11:59—to fully accept the easy yoke of Jesus, so that I move at His correct pace, knowing that His provision will always be there when I need it, and that His provision to me in fact brings Him glory. Thus, I’m also often been fond of adding a corollary phrase to my dad’s:
“I need to reset my watch.”
The truth is, we often have no clue about God’s timing. But a good rule of thumb is this: Remove yourself, and anything else other than God you trust in, from the equation—which is also to say, remove the pain that “waiting” brings to you—then view the situation again. At that point in time when it’s clear there’s nothing you can do to meet that need, there God will be.
I’m writing today’s entry in such a season. Over the past year, things I thought I could depend on—schedules, promises, routines, people—have failed or fallen by the wayside. My wife and I are in a place where each week could be the one when we no longer can successfully pay the bills, when work may or may not come. And yet, weeks like this have now gone by, and a check or an assignment arrives in time, or the money went further than expected. Thus, if we look at the situation objectively rather than with an anxiety about our future, the fact is, we lack nothing.
We all have to rely on God. The blessing, when it comes right down to it, is when we realize that and live as if it were true. Because it is.
Matthew 6—the center of the Sermon on the Mount—is loaded with Jesus’ assertions about our future: The Lord’s Prayer, the promise that our private giving—and fasting—will be rewarded openly, the encouragement to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth, but most apparently in the following passage used by every one of us who worry about the future—thus, I’ll step aside and let Jesus close today’s thoughts, because after all they’re about today:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:25-24, NIV).
Lay It Down Today
Let’s try a little experiment. Find a watch or a clock with a second hand. Then, do not be anxious: Close your eyes and wait before Jesus right now. In fact, do it for exactly 1 minute and 59 seconds—or at least what you think is 1 minute and 59 seconds. Keep your eyes closed until you think that amount of time has passed, then look up. When you’re done, reflect:
• How hard was it to be still and wait, for not even two minutes? What kinds of things went through your head during that time? Why?
• Why do we seem to be able to do everything except wait? Why does it make us so uncomfortable?
Close your eyes once more and pray. Ask God to “reset your watch,” that you can live more within his perfect will and timing, and free from anxiety about your future—including your future today.