Dear God,

   Is it even possible I’m writing to you for our October Newsletter?  “Where did the time fly?” Isn’t that what “old people” say? 

   Time is such a funny commodity.  Here’s a list of things we say about time: “We spend time.  We waste time.  We have time.  We don’t have time.  It’s about time!  Any time now!  I wish I had more time. We have too much time on our hands.  Give me some time.  I’m out of time.  Time drags.  I’ve got all the time in the world.  I’ll make time for you.  Just give me some more time. Time flies.  Time seemed to stop.  Is it that time already?  Sorry, you’re out of time.  It’s not time yet.  Just give it time. 

   As I read this list it seems that the common phrases are mostly said with a sense of irritation, anxiety, anger, frustration, or self-importance that time is out of our control.  But there are some words about time that don’t have the burden of anxiety and impatience.  In fact, they are words that can fill me with quiet, calm, peace, and wisdom. 

   What are those words?  They’re simple…“All in God’s time.”

   When I say, “All in God’s time”, I remember to place myself in the rhythm of life which you have established, Lord and I hear the words from the book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3: “For everything there is a season, and a time for all things under heaven.”

   Those words also help in times of transitions.  To tell the truth, sometimes I’m just arrogant enough to think that my timing in life is better than yours, O Lord.  I suppose we all do it.  We look at an event in life and complain to you that this isn’t fair, or right, or the right time.  The early death of a young person or friend certainly is a time when I say that.  But I know, in the back of my mind and in my heart, that there is a rhythm of life that you’ve ordained, and I know that when I place myself in that rhythm I find peace.

   Now is one such moment as I look at my last Sundays here in the Old Stone Church as the pastor and teacher. 

   People have asked why I’m retiring now.  After all, things have been going well, there’s enthusiasm in church, my sermons are good enough that people aren’t saying “He’s good, but you should have seen him in his prime!”  We don’t have conflict, our budget is strong, and relationships are sound.  Why would I decide to retire?

   I tell them, it’s because through my prayers I’ve come to feel it’s in “God’s time”, not mine or theirs.  The gifts I’ve got and the reasons you called me to this church have been satisfied.  In my prayers I’ve come to believe that you have a person in mind with a different skill-set and gifts that can take your church to the next chapter in life.  If I stayed on, after hearing what I’ve heard from you in my prayers, I would be acting in my time, not yours.  So, “It’s all in God’s time”, and it’s time for the next pastor to help form the rich history of your congregation of faithful people.

   So now I thank you for the time you’ve given me here in our Old Stone Church, Lord.  You’ve allowed Carm and I to serve this church for nearly 17 years (February ‘21 would have been 17 full years).  In your time you’ve allowed me to make more friends than I can count, and I’ve seen this church grow in openness, inclusion, warmth, welcome, and a spirit of community.  In your time you’ve let me grow as a pastor, husband, man, and father.  In your time you let me make my mistakes and try to recover from them.  Occasionally, in your time, I’ve even had a good sermon (though some would still kid me that they think I find them on the internet).  And, in your time there was laughter…lots of laughter.

   So, it’s “all in God’s time”, and I’m at peace with that.

   Thanks for listening.  I love you.

   Dan

Pastoral Pondering October 2020