May 19, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture: Psalm 31:14-17 (NRSV)
But I trust in you, O LORD;
I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.
Let your face shine upon your servant;
save me in your steadfast love.
When, inspired by Psalm 31, we pray, “My times are in your hand,” we are acknowledging that our lives belong fully and finally to God. God can rightfully determine what we ought to do with the time entrusted to us. We receive each day as gift from the Lord, an occasion to serve God and to serve others through all we do.
Have you ever thought about the phrase “time management”? Though it’s used consistently by business gurus and self-help books, and though it’s something in which many of us aspire to be excellent, “time management” is actually a silly phrase. Which of us, after all, can actually manage time?
Yes, we do have some freedom to control what we do with the time given to us. I can decide to work on this Life for Leaders devotion or, instead, vacuum the house (which I will be doing after I finish this devotion, actually). But I can’t make time speed up or slow down. And to my consternation, I can’t control much of what happens during the time of my earthly existence.
Oh, I can sometimes pretend as if I’m the boss of my time. But then something comes along to jar my consciousness—something like a pandemic, for example. All of a sudden what I had been expecting to do with my time is turned upside down. And, in spite of how much I read about the coronavirus and its implications, I really don’t know what’s coming next . . . and neither do you.
Thus, “in these uncertain times,” I find the words of Psalm 31 profoundly true, profoundly relevant, and profoundly freeing. In verse 5, the psalm writer says to the Lord, “My times are in your hand.” “Times” in this context means “the things that happen in my life” or even “my existence on earth.” The psalmist is currently in the “hand” of his “enemies and persecutors.” Thus, his very life is threatened. His “times” could soon be over. Yet, this threatening situation reminds the psalm writer that, in reality, all of his times belong to God. God gave him life. God sustains his life. God determines the span of his life. And, in the end, God will be the source of his eternal life.
When, inspired by Psalm 31, we pray, “My times are in your hand,” we are acknowledging that our lives belong fully and finally to God. God can rightfully determine what we ought to do with the time God has entrusted to us. We receive each day as gift from the Lord, an occasion to serve God and to serve others through all we do.
As many Life for Leaders readers know, a few years ago I almost died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. By God’s grace given through the wisdom of a wonderful doctor, the wonders of doxycycline, and the healing power of the Spirit, I recovered completely. But I’m not the same as I was before I contracted that disease. I don’t think of my life in quite the same way. I feel more deeply than I once did the truth that my times are in God’s hands. My life isn’t really mine. It belongs to my Lord, who redeemed me through Christ and saved me from deadly peril.
Now, I can easily return to thinking about my life as my possession, my “times” as something I get to control. But Psalm 31 reminds me of the truth. I exist by God’s grace and for God’s pleasure. I live “for the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:12). And so do you. Your times are in God’s gracious hand. Your life belongs to the Lord.
Would you be able to say to the Lord, truly, “My times are in your hand”? What would this mean to you?
Do you think of your whole life as something that belongs to the Lord? Or do you think of your life as partly your own and partly God’s to direct?
How might the truth that your times are in God’s hand be freeing for you?
Think of something tangible you could do to remind yourself during the day that your times are in God’s hand. (For example, I just created a reminder in my phone that will tell me at a certain time each day: Your times are in God’s hand.)
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of life. Thank you for the “times” you have given to me. Yet, as I receive this gift with gladness, I also remember that, really, my times still belong to you. My life is yours. I belong to you through Jesus Christ.
Help me to live each day, Lord, with the duty and freedom of knowing that I am yours. My time is yours. My life is yours. My work is yours. All that I am is yours. May I live today, and each day, for the praise of your glory. Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Father, I Entrust My Spirit into Your Hands
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.