Lord, this is the right time for you to make this happen! I don’t think so, he answers quietly, in that still, small voice.
If there is one thing I have never quite understood about God, is his timing. Just when I have needed him to step in, and I can see the door and the angle he can use to step in and sort me out, he goes silent, only to act several hours, days or weeks later. As always, I am grateful that He works things out, but sometimes I wonder – if only I knew what time to ask the Lord for help so that I would not have to wait so long for an answer!
This week a friend asked me a hard question , “I have been praying about a decision I want to make, and I feel peace in my heart. How will I know the right time – God’s time, to step out in faith and put my plan into action?” I understood exactly what was running through her mind. Though she had prayed and put her trust in God, she still needed to know when and how this would take place. I have been there countless times, and I know you have too.
God’s timing – what a mystery. Thankfully, the Bible gives us a few insights into how God’s timing works.
God’s timing is perfect
Ecclesiastes 3:11a “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time.” (NLT)
Before I got married, this was one of the most encouraging yet annoying verses for me. I was getting on in years, under pressure from society to get married, and yet, though I had repeatedly asked God to send me someone right for me to marry, it seemed that he was really taking his time.
(Those of us who are reading this and are yet to tie the knot, can I hear a loud ‘Amen’ from you?)
The years went on, relationships came along and failed, and finally, I decided to let God have his way. I decided not to focus on how disappointed this verse made me feel; rather, I focused on getting to know God more deeply. I got immersed myself in ministry and work and got so busy that I had hardly any time to ‘look’ around. That’s when God answered my prayer.
When I look back, I realize that God’s timing was perfect. After we got married, I was no longer able to continue with the ministry that I was doing because we moved to another town. Also, once the children came along, my ministry focus changed – to one with a wider reach than what I had ever imagined.
Yes, I thought that my timing was perfect, but it wasn’t. If God had answered my prayers before his appointed time, I would be telling a totally different story today.
Are you tired of waiting? Let me give you a little tip. Don’t focus on what you are waiting for; instead, focus on the Giver of what you are waiting for.
God’s timing focuses on the bigger picture
These days going to visit a new place is so easy. You get directions from Google Maps with information about the terrain, weather, road conditions, traffic conditions, etc. Things are not like they were back in the day when we would first have to ask how to get to the nearest town, then from there ask for directions to the nearest village, and once in the village, ask the villagers for further directions to our destination.
Sometimes I wish God gave as much detail as Google Maps when giving direction – but he doesn’t. God will say, “You need to talk to this person today”, but he will not say why. He will say, “You will be well” but he will not say how or when he will heal you.
Why does he do that?
Ecclesiastes 3:11 “Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” (NLT)
God does not give us all the details we think we need because we would never be able to understand it all – only he can.
Isaiah 55:8-9 ‘“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”’ (NLT)
Back to the topic of God’s timing. If he let you have everything you wanted when you wanted it, his perfect plan for you would not come to pass. God’s timing is always tied into his perfect plan for us.
Back to my marriage story. Before I started dating my husband, I had experienced at least eight years of music ministry. I was able to give all my time and my talent to the Lord without worrying about family obligations. I learnt so much during those few years – working with different people and the dynamics and challenges of ministry. I also improved my musical skills tremendously.
What if God had given me a husband before all this? Would I have had this awesome experience of being totally ‘used up’ for God? No, I wouldn’t.
Interestingly, years before I even started the husband hunt, I had made a prayer to the Lord that went something like this:
“Lord, I want to be used by you. I want to use my talent for your glory. Please open up opportunities for me to do so, and I will serve you faithfully. Amen.”
He answered this prayer. And when my time in that ministry was up, he answered the prayer to settle down in marriage.
Indeed, God’s timing focuses on the bigger picture, far beyond what our earthly eyes can see. If you are waiting and praying anxiously for something and the answer is not forthcoming, be patient. There is a lot happening behind the scenes – things that you would most likely not understand!
Gods timing is not time-bound
Today if I needed the Lord to send me some money to pay bills and then he sends it after a week, is it that he didn’t know how urgently I needed it?
2 Peter 3:9a “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think…” (NLT)
Or maybe God doesn’t know how fast time moves here on earth?
Psalm 90:4 “For you, a thousand years are as a passing day, as brief as a few night hours.” (NLT)
Sometimes God does this at his own pace to teach us patience. I have heard stories of people who have prayed for money to pay their rent and they sit waiting anxiously as the deadline approaches. In one instance, the deadline passed, the rent still unpaid, and the landlord didn’t do anything. A week later, the person got money and paid the rent, and the landlord was grateful! What did this individual learn in this instance? One, that God was able to provide the money for rent at the right time, and that He was able to give that person favour with the landlord!
In other words, what we view as an urgent prayer that must be answered NOW is often an opportunity for God to teach us patience.
Lamentations 3:25-26 “The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.So it is good to wait quietly for salvation from the Lord.” (NLT)
A few years after our first child was born, we decided it was time to have another baby. I was certain that this would be an easy process – after all, I was healthy and still young (or so I thought). Little did we know that conceiving this baby would become a prayer need! Once again, we were getting on in years and society had started putting us under pressure. I needed God to answer this prayer urgently so that I could have peace!
He did so, only after I decided to wait patiently for his answer. That moment of surrender was not easy, but God gave me peace as soon as I handed over my burning desire to him. I went on with my life, and he answered my prayer. The Lord did not confine his answer to a clock or a calendar; he instead answered at a time he knew was best for us. And sure enough, his timing was perfect.
Friends, waiting on the Lord is not always easy. You will get tired, angry, impatient, and discouraged from time to time. If you are currently waiting on God for something, don’t give up just yet. Let him handle things in his own time – after all, he knows you better than you know yourself, and he knows exactly when you will need what you are asking for!