Now that we have so much more quiet time on our hands, this is a golden opportunity to reflect on how we get through each day. I’m not talking about revamping our schedule for greater efficiency or retooling our to do lists. I’m talking about digging a little deeper into experiencing the passage of time biblically. The classic admonition, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” (Matthew 6:34) is a wise point of instruction, but too often we are left wondering how to apply it more practically. What does daily trusting in God look like?
The Psalmist identifies these when he says, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17) We also read about the “night watches” in Psalm 63:6. These four-fold pattern—morning, noon, evening, and night—informs us about welcoming each new portion of the day. Morning lasts six hours (6:00 AM to 12 PM), Noon lasts six hours (12 pm to 6:00 PM), Evening lasts six hours (6:00 PM to 12 AM), and Night lasts six hours (12 AM to 6:00 AM). This round of six hours that adds up to 24 total helps us mark off each period as a gift from God while also remaining aware of the uniqueness of each portion.
Morning is always a breakthrough, a kind of joyful rebirth, (Psalm 30:5) that reminds us of God’s grace in sustaining us through the night and the great potential of what we can do through God’s power today (Eswine 101). It also reminds us of the resurrection, when the terrors of sin and darkness are finally vanquished (Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1). Noon, on the other hand, is the time when a dull sense of weariness begins to set in after the apparently boundless energy of morning. Distractions come easily and we realize our fragility as human beings (Eswine 102). Evening is a time of enjoyment and hospitality. Once the work is done, we can settle into social time and a more leisurely meal. According to Scripture, it’s a time for relishing peace in the company of neighbors and friends, but it also has dangers. Many run the risk of falling into temptation or coming to the dinner table irritable (Eswine 103). The tiredness of evening tends to magnify the frustrations and anxieties of noontime. We need Jesus’ calming, gracious presence and when we bed down for the night, we can remind ourselves of our limitations, humbly accept God’s grace, and make sure our hearts are given to him before falling asleep. Then, last of all, there’s the solitude of night. We can see this portion as a refreshing, Sabbath-like rest (Eswine 104). Night also reminds us of our human limitations and our mortality apart from God. But it’s also a time of dreaming. Dreams can be confusing, cobbled together emotions from the day, fearful nightmares, or restful visions of future glory. Our dreams may not be a direct vision from God, but they do often reflect the moods, feelings, and fluctuating circumstances of our day. But we can submit our impressions, musings, joys, anxieties, fears, and sorrows to God and allow Him to grant us a truly peaceful rest (Eswine 105).
Recognizing these sections of the day helps us plan more productively, but it also helps us realize our times of vulnerability. We can avoid temptation, handle our feelings, and pace ourselves well when we see the day not as one big, indistinct block, but as portions that God designed. We can greet each one with a plea for God’s grace and leave each one with thanksgiving for His protection and sustenance. We can also trust more deeply that God will give us the strength to meet each challenge when it comes.
Eswine, Zack. The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015. E-book.