Why a Thousand Years Is Too Long and Not Long at All
Are you discouraged today or feeling condemned because of the toll life has taken on you? It may surprise you to know that you’re smack dab in the middle of God’s perfect plan for your life! How so? I’d be happy to tell you. Like other articles, I’m writing this so people will learn something important “outside the camp” of mainstream Christian thought. What I want to share with you today is both a fun and a not-so-fun message all in one. It’s delightful and raw.
If you embrace the whole truth I will address here, it will make your life more meaningful, acceptable, and make you aware of God’s higher purposes. It will satisfy many of your “What in the world is God doing?” questions.
One Profound Verse
The whole concept of this teaching is taken from this one verse in Scripture – “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3:8).
I am like everyone else—I’d rather know God as the One to whom a day is as a thousand years. The other part of God…has caused me some grief!
One day equals a thousand years means that God attends to each detail of my life and being. He patiently watches that new hair growing on my knuckles, reads every thought I think, and takes years (His years) to prepare the way before every step I take. Selah! (That means, don’t just read it, but pause and think about it.)
I understand this side of God to be sensitive, personal, awake, attentive, and available. He is “a very present help in a time of need.”
A Long, Long Minute
One day, I decided to do some algebra based on 2 Peter 3:8. There are 1,440 minutes in a day. If, therefore, we take this verse literally: “a day is as a thousand years,” it would mean God can give 8 1/3 months attention to each and every minute of our lives!
He has the time to notice what’s going on with the ants between each and every blade of grass, and still, He hears my every heartbeat. This is the God I like—the one who takes care of trivial details and is HERE to make every detail work out right. This is the side of God we tell people about when we are trying to convert them. He answers the phone before it rings and redirects the bee before it stings! Selah!
There’s another side of God. This is the side of God I’m experiencing in my life right now. I usually don’t tell people about this side of God when I’m witnessing, for it’s the side my humanness isn’t so “cozy” with—the side I’d love to ignore.
It’s the other half of 2 Peter 1:8: “a thousand years as one day.” This part means that God gives only one minute attention to every 8 1/3 month period of my life. He’s the God who sees the big picture and understands how I fit into this big picture of time and history. He is the God who sees multi-generationally. This means, He sees the effect and result of what He’s doing with me NOW coming to fruition one, two, or three generations from now…while I sit here, now, without a clue!
Relating to this side of God prompted me to read the book of Ecclesiastes one more time. It is this side of God that teaches me patience and trust. It reminds me that I fit into God’s plan and not vice versa. He is the God who works with seasons, when it’s not His will to work in micro-moments. He counts blocks of history as I would an afternoon at work.
During a season of life when I was trying to make sense out of things that didn’t make sense, my wife, Ruthie, and I headed for the mountains to hike for the day. At the ridge of one of the mountain peaks, we sat on a rock and overlooked an incredible, vast carpet of trees below us. I sensed the Holy Spirit was speaking to me through the magnificent view. I wondered out loud to Ruthie: how many of those trees have never been touched by a human? It was probable that some of those trees had never been seen by human eyes except for their leaves on top. A tree could die, nobody would notice, and another tree would take its place. But God would notice. That tree would be praised by the Maker for faithful service, fulfilling a small yet important place in His vast and majestic picture.
This was the way I felt that day. In one sense, my life was just a small tree in the whole forest of God’s plan. I sensed, in a special way, that I was merely one in a crowd, yet still important in the crowd. We all expect that our life and influence should be on the beaten path, where a passerby could appreciate our form and beauty. But there is a sense that each and every one of us must fill our small, but important, place in His majestic overview. This week, I taught at a church where thousands attend. Tomorrow, I drive an hour alone for my job, just to check if a piece of electric cable was put in the ground correctly.
I do things where I get thanks, and I do things where I get no thanks—nobody but God and Ruthie know. At times, I’m on the beaten path, but more than that, I’m called to be a piece of the big picture in God’s plan for today and His plan for the future. It is here, where the plan of God remains a mystery, where trust and faith take precedence, and where hope remains only when we understand that our lives are important links far beyond the years we live.
Perhaps you find yourself doing what seems of little value to man. But your labor may be of great value to God. Man only sees and affirms that which is obvious, comprehendible and valuable in his eyes, but God keeps the record books. Though man fails to reward or notice, God notices all things. So often, what man regards, God does not regard, and what God regards, man often ignores.
“Be not weary in well-doing. You will reap if you do not faint.”
God is both (at the same time) the God who views a day as a thousand years and who views a thousand years as a day. I value complete obedience, and I am diligent to keep my heart right before God. But the God who views a thousand years as a day teaches me that He sees a general overview of my life, and is not so intricately detailed about every single thing I do, or don’t do, right or wrong. It is this perspective that gives me great comfort at times. At times, I have to take a step back from my intricate self-examination and see my life in relationship to the big picture: Am I a good person? Have I benefitted this world, and consistently helped others? Even though I’ve made mistakes, have I kept the faith and maintained the victory? Have I consistently followed the ways of Christ throughout my life? If I have, then I am pleasing to the Father.
This line of thinking has also helped me in my view of others. At times, I am plagued with the tendency to be critical of others. I am helped when I keep in mind the big picture of what a person’s place may be in God’s overall plan. I am on a long spiritual journey, and others are, too. God sees people in terms of where they’re going—or better yet, where He’s taking them. He’s not so much concerned with where they are at this moment. Yet, at the same time, it reminds me that those who deserve judgment, or need to reap the evil they have sown, may not receive the rebuke for their unrighteousness in my timing, but perhaps they will several “minutes” later— God’s minutes!
I hope this lesson will save you many hours of grief and confusion. You may not think that where you are right now holds any future value or purpose, but I can assure you, it is part of God’s greater plan. Your situation may seem to hold no real meaning, but the fact is, you’re smack dab in the middle of God’s perfect plan for your life.
This, of course, is not to justify careless or faithless living as if somehow that is God’s perfect plan. The issue, and one we will never fully understand, is how we fit into the historical plan of God. We can only see the present, but we are also a part of the past and of the future. Don’t try to figure out everything God is doing now in your life. It may be that He is preparing the way for tomorrow.
If you embrace this perspective, I know it will help you to maintain a secure, basic trust in God. It will also help you be more merciful and less judgmental in your relationships with others.
I wish someone had taught me this great principle when I was younger. I am sure you can think of someone who desperately needs to hear this message today. I pray that you will feel motivated to share it with them and sow a seed that will reap in God’s timing.