The Myth of the Perfect Time

by Jacob Hudgins

storm cloudsHe who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap”(Eccl 11:4).

With some regularity we contemplate changes to our lives. “I could stand to lose some weight” or “I could go back to school” or “I’d like to put more money into savings” or “I’d like to study my Bible more regularly.” Yet we find these changes remarkably difficult to put into practice. Usually we envision a time when everything finally reaches perfection—the bills are all paid, our schedule is entirely free, and the phone stops ringing—that never actually happens. In Ecclesiastes, Solomon exposes the myth of the perfect time and encourages us to do what’s important now instead of waiting.

Ecclesiastes stresses the importance of understanding the appropriate times for things. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted”(Eccl 3:1-2). Understanding the appropriate time can help us appreciate where we are in life and the commitments each stage requires of us. But none of that detracts from the urgency of life now. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going”(Eccl 9:10). Our time here is short. We can’t spend it waiting for the perfect time or we’ll never accomplish anything.

Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen upon the earth”(Eccl 11:1-2). Here Solomon refers either to commercial ventures (expanding investments) or to generosity (giving to many different people). His point is: do it now. These things will pay off, but not if we wait too long to start them.

If the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves on the earth, and if a tree falls to the south or to the north, in the place where the tree falls, there it will lie. He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap”(Eccl 11:3-4). There are some things we cannot control. Farmers can’t wait until conditions are perfect to sow. They will wait forever and not eat.

The perfect time is a myth. Now is the time to serve—to build relationships—to make personal changes—to develop discipline—to make things right. “Why are you waiting?”(Acts 22:16).

Last modification: Wed 15 Aug 2018