Timing is Everything
“If it seems slow in coming, wait. It's on its way. It will come right on time.” – Habakkuk 2:3
Sometimes it feels like things are just taking too long. 'Things' could be getting the right job, starting a new project, finding a life partner... and the list goes on. We can feel rushed, like time is running out and we are slowly falling behind our peers. It’s all too easy to become frustrated, anxious or desperate seize any opportunity that emerges. After all, life is a ‘hustle’ and we all compete in the rat race. Right?
Maybe not. Psalm 37 says;
“Trust in the LORD and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. .
Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this.
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn” Psalm 37:3-6
Throughout this Psalm we're encouraged to “wait on”, “trust”, “commit to” and “be still before” God, even when it seems like everyone else is progressing by any means necessary. Why would the Bible, which is supposed to be the ultimate guide to life, encourage us to stand still in a world where everything moves so fast?
“Behold, I am the one who has laid as a foundation in Zion, a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: ‘Whoever believes [in Me] will not be in haste.’” - Isaiah 28:16
Like many people going through life, I have been confused and unsure about the pace of specific things, for example, my career. But these sayings gave me a lot of peace; because if I believe in and lean on Jesus there should be no need to rush and race others, because he has made ‘everything beautiful in it’s time’. And yes, while God can accelerate processes, most of the time we will find our patience being stretched. Learning to wait gives us space to mature, strengthen our faith and fully rely on God by trusting that He is working it all out for our benefit (as the Bible says). Waiting isn’t always easy, but with God it’s always worth it.
An example of this is in the life Jesus himself. After feeding 5,000 people with very little food, everyone was amazed at what he had done. “Knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, [Jesus] withdrew again to a mountain by himself.” – John 6:15 (emphasis added)
The prospect of being crowned king isn’t such a bad idea. If I was there with Jesus, I probably would have said something along the lines of 'definitely go for it, isn’t this why you said you were coming in the first place? The crowd loves you and being King is definitely an upgrade on your current job as a carpenter/roaming preacher. Seize the opportunity to develop your career’. It would have been strange to see Jesus withdraw from the crowds of people to be by himself – where was his ambition? His tenacity? Some things I learned from this were:
1) 'Good opportunities' may not be right for you at this point in your life. But it’s very difficult to tell in the midst of all the general busyness of our daily lives. Most times, true clarity comes when it’s just God and us. When we take a breather. Taking the time to stop and think brings clarity to situations, as even the most attractive opportunity may lead us down the wrong path (Proverbs 14:12). This is what it means to distinguish between a 'good thing' and something which is from God (more on 'Good or God' at the end of this post). We should never feel pressured to go at the pace society expects us to
2) Waiting on and trusting God is a habit. It's interesting to see that Jesus withdrew “again” to a mountain. On various occasions we see him separate himself from the hustle and bustle of life as to get clarity (Mark 1, Luke 6). Patience and waiting, like most important things in life, needs to be practiced regularly to have an impact in our lives
This is what will keep us focused on our own personal journey, the Right Path. Taking time with God reminds us of the specific promises and plans he has for each of us, both individually and collectively. He always finishes what he starts (Isaiah 55:11), you can trust that without obsessing over the pace.
Some questions that came up while I was writing this post:
Q: How do I hear from God while I’m waiting?
A: Primarily through God's spoken Word – the Bible. Also, by praying and ‘doing life’ with other people who are on their own journey with Jesus. I’ve found these three things, in that order, bring clarity and direction to life when things get a bit frantic. God also speaks in a number of other ways to different people, for example some people have a strong feeling while others might have dreams. You’ll discover the way(s) in which God speaks to you as you grow in your relationship with Jesus. Like all things on this journey, none of us are 100% there yet, so don’t be daunted, just start somewhere
Q: Does this mean I should be passive or take a back seat in the things I’m passionate about?
A: Definitely not. Waiting on God helps find the healthy balance between living a passive, inactive life and frantically running from opportunity to opportunity trying to fill our lives with meaning. God expects us to step up and make the most of God-given opportunities and dreams. But if you're feeling rushed and desperate to progress your life prematurely, it's worth pausing for a moment...
Q: I think I’ve acted a bit too quickly in a certain area of my life and now I don’t know what to do…
A: In short, with God it's never too late to reroute. He will make up for lost time, nothing is wasted with Him
Sidenote: I’m currently doing a YouVersion reading plan on distinguishing between whether an opportunity is a “Good or God” opportunity. It’s also based on this book by John Bevere, which is on my reading list. Enjoy!