by Alan Stewart
When I began trying to teach my son how to hit a baseball it started out as the greatest effort in futility I had witnessed in some time. What made this such a frustrating moment for me was the fact I knew how to hit a baseball, but teaching someone else who has to learn for himself is a different story. He had all the mechanics correct, but the little fellow couldn't seem to even touch a ball.
After better than a hundred swings, I could see the disappointment and discouragement written all over him. I decided it was in his best interest to give it a rest. The next day, I made one slight adjustment to his swing. I asked him to count to three before swinging once I released the ball. Suddenly, he began to hit like a seasoned veteran. He looked at me with eyes filled with pride and said, "Daddy, it was all in the timing."
We have all heard the phrase, "being in the right place at the right time." It gives the idea that luck made its way into your pathway. However, in the economy of God, luck plays no factor in our lives. It is all about His timing.
Understanding the Lord's timing is one of the most difficult disciplines to apply in our lives. Scripture refers to God's timing as "the fullness of time," "due season," and "time fulfilled." These Scriptures speak of our lives being in Divine order, where every piece and part is working in harmony. Around each bend in life, there are open doors and closed doors. Over each horizon, there are opportunities and risks. Many choose at such junctures based on "hunches," "feelings," the planets being in alignment, or some other guess. How, on the other hand, is the man of God to discern the signs of the timing of the Lord in your life?
The timing of the Lord is a peaceful assurance. When Jonah ran from his calling to go to Nineveh, we are told "he found a ship going to Tarshish." On the surface, one would gather the idea it was perfect timing for Jonah. However, the word for "found" means "to attain, acquire." Jonah thought he had manipulated the timing, but his efforts only proved to be a counterfeit to God's ultimate plan for him. Perhaps Charles Swindoll said it best concerning the timing of God: "When God is in it, it flows; when God is not, it is forced." Many of the storms that have found their way into our pathway came not by God's providence as much as they came by our presumption. This is not to say that the will of God will not come with obstacles or difficulty. But, when the timing of God meets the will of God there is a spiritual vacuum that allows you to walk peacefully amidst the swirl.
The timing of the Lord is a prepared appointment. In Luke 22, Jesus was forewarning Peter of a coming sifting that would shake him to his core. In his youthful exuberance, Peter answered, "Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both to prison and to death." Peter meant that with all the sincerity of his heart, but he was neither ready nor willing to go-at that time. The word "ready" meant he was "fit and adjusted." He made the mistake we are all prone to make; trying to convince God of his readiness when God knew he was not. To step through a door prematurely in life is to discover a place where our character cannot sustain us. Peter tried, and failed miserably.
You can rest assured; the timing of the Lord will always match our readiness. Our readiness is determined by whether we would use the opportunity for ourselves or for the Lord. Peter said he would die for the Lord. In God's prepared timing, he did. Peter had visions of sitting on a throne. In God's prepared timing, he will.
The timing of the Lord is a preserving affirmation. Whether to rescue a Paul in a basket lowered from a window, or to place an Esther on a throne, the Lord always knows the perfect time to slip us out or slide us in. In a word, it is always right! God's timing is a small window of achievable opportunity, but it comes with confirmation to move on our part. David had the shot arrow of Jonathan. The spies had Rahab's scarlet cord. Jesus had Greeks seeking to see Him that prompted Him to say, "the hour is come." His delays are not denials, but rather a timed arrival of His affirmation. God's timepiece is not kept by seconds or minutes. It is gauged by principles and promises.
It is so difficult to understand the Lord's timing. This is mostly because we try to fit His timing into our timetable rather than the other way around. There are days He appears to move too slowly. There are other days He startles me with His swiftness. In His timing, life leads us from testing, to tears, to triumph. Things always happen on His schedule, and we can accept that or, as Jonah, be dragged into it. It is no accident where you are today. More than likely, you were placed there perfectly "For such a time as this."
Alan Stewart pastors Rechoboth Baptist Church in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee