It is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who has given us these words in one of His parables. He says: "After a long time the Lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them." (Matthew 25 verse 19.) This, while in one place He speaks of the "little while." in another He speaks of "the long time." Little, yet great; short, yet long; both are true; and it is this double expression that makes up the full character of man's condition here, as preparing for the great day of the Lord.
From the day when the Master left the earth and went up to the Father, to the day when He shall come again in His glory to sit on the awful throne before which all nations shall be gathered, is, in one sense, a long time, as men reckon years and ages. But in another sense, it is but a little while, if we reckon time as God reckons it, and compare it with the vast eternity in which it is to be swallowed up.
Life is a vapour, and that is little; life is a journey, and that is long. Life is a handbreadth, and that is little; life is a period made of many days, and weeks, and months, and years, and that is long. Life is a post, and that is swift; life is a pilgrimage, and that is slow. Life is like the eagle hastening to its prey; life is a time of sojourning. Life is a weaver's shuttle; life is fourscore years.
God gives us time enough to turn and live. When a teacher sets a task of a few pages to his scholar, and says, "I give you a week to do it in," he allows him a long time; for the task is one which might be done in an hour. So, when God says, "Seek ye Me, and ye shall live," or "Acquaint thyself now with God, and be at peace," and gives us a lifetime for this, He is giving us "a long time."
We delay, and linger, and loiter, so that year after year passes by, and we are no nearer God than at the first. But our delays do not change the long time. We make it a short one by our foolishness; but it was really a long one for the thing that was to be done – to take the single step that was to bring us to Christ and place us beneath the shadow of His cross. For that there was time enough, even in the shortest life, so that no one can say at last, "I had no time given me to prepare for eternity, and I was hurried to the grave without time to seek the Lord." "And I gave her space to repent," are the warning words spoken to sinners. Space to repent is the message still! Repent is the burden of all exhortation, and this God follows with, "I gave you space to repent."