Our times, like all times, are in God’s hand (Psalm 31:15). This is what it means to live by faith in relation to time. In choosing to trust the speed of God, we humble ourselves under his mighty, time-holding hand.
Did you know your head ages faster than your feet? Scientists have confirmed this, proving again that Albert Einstein was spot-on in his theories of relativity: the speed of time is relative to a particular frame of reference. For us terrestrials, that frame of reference is earth’s gravitational force. The higher up from the earth something is, the weaker the gravitational pull and the faster time moves.
An implication of this is that we frequently put our trust in a frame of reference on time different from the one we experience. For instance, the Global Positioning System (GPS) we rely on to accurately and safely guide us as we pilot our cars, ships, planes, and spaceships only works because it’s programmed, based on Einstein’s theories of relativity, to compensate for the distance between earth and space. Without those formulas, our computers and smartphones would soon get disastrously out of sync with the GPS satellites, which orbit in a different time.
Stick with me; I am going somewhere with this. How we experience time depends on our frame of reference. And our particular frame of reference is not always the one we should trust. In fact, sometimes it’s critically important that we trust another framing more than our own.
One Day with the Lord
For Christians, this concept is nothing new. Over three millennia ago, Moses wrote,
A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night. (Psalm 90:4)
And some two millennia ago, Peter wrote,
Do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
In other words, time in God’s eyes moves at different speeds from time in our ours. And in the life of faith, it’s critically important that we learn to rely on God’s timing more than our own — to learn to trust the speed of God.
How Long, O Lord?
Learning to trust God’s timing is not easy, to say the least. This is partly due to our sin and unbelief. But it’s also because trusting a frame of reference different from ours is, by definition, counterintuitive. Since we can’t calculate God’s time, his timing often doesn’t make sense to us.
That’s why after Peter described one God-day as being like a thousand years for us, he went on to say, “The Lord is not slow . . . as some count slowness” (2 Peter 3:9). The “some” he referred to were “scoffers” who mocked Christians’ hope in the return of Christ (2 Peter 3:3–4). But the truth is that all of us fit into the “some” category at times. I don’t mean as scoffers, but as children of God painfully perplexed by our heavenly Father’s apparent slowness.
We cry out, “How long, O Lord?” (Psalm 13:1), wondering when he will finally fulfill some promise to which we’re clinging. So, Peter exhorts us, the “beloved” of God, not to “overlook” the fact that God-time is not man-time; therefore, God “is not slow” as man counts slowness (2 Peter 3:8–9) — as I sometimes count slowness. Indeed, he is not.
God Is Not Slow
Someone who has created such a thing as light speed, and who knows what’s happening in every part of a universe spanning some 93 billion light-years across, is clearly not slow.
It’s also clear, however, that such a being as God operates on a very different timeline than we do — if timeline is even the right word. For God is not constrained by time. He is the Father of time (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16). He is “the Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:9), existing “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2).