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It’s About Time

It’s About Time

What Time is it anyway?

January 21, 2007

It’s About Time

Is it time yet?

“Is it time yet?” I can’t tell you how often I have heard those words over the years after having raised three children who were always interested in knowing when the “time” was coming that they were anticipating.

Whether that be reaching the campsite where we would spend our vacation or when the appointed time was coming to open Christmas gifts, it is an often repeated phrase around any household with children: “Is it time yet?”

A Father’s story

A father tells the story of how his daughter Rachel wanted to help transplant some small maple trees in the side yard. Given that she was only five years old, she could not handle the shovel or transport the trees. This dad really wanted her to be a part of the process so that some day she could come back home and say, “I helped Dad plant that tree!”, so it was necessary to give her some task that could be deemed responsible while yet being doable for a little girl of five.

When we made it out to the shed where the shovels were stored, she asked if she could help dig. “No.” he said. “Tell you what. You can help me water every tree that we plant. How would that be?” She liked that idea. The watering can was a plastic one and she didn’t have to fill it full. She could probably handle that.

So off they went into our woods to find just the right maples that could be transplanted out into the front yard. Finally they found a small one, no bigger than four feet high. It was just about the size of Rachel and she became excited. “Should we dig this one Daddy?” As he began to dig, it was obvious that she was getting antsy. She asked him how long it would take and how deep he would have to dig.

Finally, forgetting completely about the transplanting, she asked, “Can I water it now?”

“No!” he said patiently. “I have to dig it out first and put it in another hole. Then you can water it.”

After about ten minutes or so, the root ball extracted, I picked up the little tree and Rachel and I trudged over to the front yard to find just the right spot for tree number one. Spot selected, I started digging the planting hole for the little tree. I had laid the little maple down next to the spot and within but a few minutes he heard sprinkles behind me.

Rachel was watering the tree despite the fact it was not in the ground yet. “Not yet, honey. First let me get the tree in the hole.” He went back to my digging. Finally she helped me lift it into the hole.

“Can I water it now?” she pleaded. “No, not yet. First let Daddy put some earth around the roots and pack it in. Then you can water it.” Finally, ground in place, Rachel watered her tree.

We transplanted six trees that fall afternoon. And the ritual of premature watering repeated itself as each tree was pulled from the ground, lifted into the hold and packed down tight. “Is it time yet?” It was repeated often that afternoon. To this day I am certain that the reason each one of those maples is doing so well today is that a little girl of five blessed each one of them with an abundance of water whether they wanted it or not.

Time. As children we have a very difficult time understanding the concept of now and later. Time is always now when we are children. Later is not a concept that we either care about or really even grasp. Children live in the now and have little understanding of the later. Because of their limited comprehension of the concept of time, children find it difficult to work within the bounds that we adults set on it. “It’s time for bed!” We call out as the evening slips into night. But to a child it is only time to be doing what he or she is presently doing.

Perceiving that one event is followed by another in a structured sequence is not something easily grasped by a five-year-old anxious to “do” now and not later.

And so it is also with us as it concerns balancing our timing against God’s. Since we are only limited human beings, it is difficult for us to understand that our focus on the here and now may not be the same focus our Heavenly Father might be taking. His perspective of time is not often one we share. We ask for a blessing or a gift and don’t receive it in the “allotted” time and we are disappointed, even miffed at God. If God delays an answer for such a long period of time that we have even forgotten we asked, disappointment can easily become discouragement. We look longingly to the skies in the shadow of our Heavenly Father’s grace and ask impatiently, “Is it time yet?” We ask because, like little Rachel, it is what we like and want. We little regard what might be better for us based on God’s perfect timing. When God is ready, He will do it; not necessarily when we like it but when He deems it is the right time. Taking matters into our own hands will only result in delays and wrong turns.

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