Psalm 31:15a is stark and simple. Someone praying says this to God:
"My times are in your hands".
And, just like that, you have words to base your life on, an unambiguous promise, and a mantra - all in one.
God relates to us in a personal way, because he is a person - not an idea, a construct, a philosophy, or the Honorary Invisible President of Outer Space.
Because he is a person, you can speak to him in the first person. He knows you personally, whether you have known him well for years, whether you are not even sure he is there or not, whether you are so glad he exists because his existence alone makes sense out of life, whether you believe in him kicking and screaming, whether you hate him or love him. He is. And you are.
And you are his idea.
When he looks at you he sees someone he is flat out crazy about, not someone he is ashamed of, barely tolerates, or is disappointed in.
Don't miss this part. The word "times" is important.
The writer could have said "life" or "days" or "future" or "existence" or something like that.
Instead, he said "times". A very specific word, meaning a very specific thing - every second of life you have lived, are living at this very instant, and will ever live.
That horrible time years or weeks or minutes ago when you hated what you had become, hated what was being done to you, hated the mess you had made, hated the mess you had been handed.
He was there when you let someone you love down, said the thing you would give years of your life to take back, walked away from an act of courage or kindness, failed to say that thing you have always wished you had said. Back then.
He's there in that uncertain future that right now that you don't trust, that you dread, that you can't believe in. There in the uncertainty around your marriage or finances or health.
He's there in that future you are so excited about and have such high hopes for - so high that you can barely dare to believe it might be that good and right.
And he is there right now, in this very moment whether this moment is about great joy or searing pain or just your average afternoon.
All of your times. Every second of them.
And that goes for those you love - the beloved you can't live with or without, the kids you love more than you dare express, the older one who is slipping away from you more each year, the little one yet to be born whose life you hope for so much.
are in your hands...
There's that personhood thing again. God's not an old-fashioned watchmaker who wound up the universe and is letting it wind down on its own, or a forgetful laptop owner who boots up and forgets to plug in and ignores things as the battery runs down, or a psycho puppeteer playing with his jerky creations as they dance around on strings finally crumpling into pointy pieces.
He's holding you, supporting you, seeing you, loving you, telling a story with your life that is not a one-man or one-woman play but is rather a great work of art - full of drama, comedy (you know who you are!), triumph, loss, long journeys and - always - a coming home.
You're not an accident, and you have not been left on your own to fend for yourself.
You're not the captain of your fate or the master of your soul.
You're loved, far more than you could ever dare to ask or imagine.
Whatever your times have held, are holding, will hold...they are in God's hands.
So you can relax and hope, no matter the odds or how late in the day it feels to you or how little you may feel up to the task of the next moment.
Your times are in his hands.