When my husband and I were first married, there was a copious amount of new things to learn about one another after dating long distance. Our polar opposite timing was one of those things. Where I reveled in sleeping in, procrastinating and rushing, he gleaned joy from rising early, planning, and budgeting time. In my world, arriving 15 minutes late to a party was a gracious gesture. To him, if you weren’t five minutes early, you were already late.
Nothing brought our disagreements on timing to a head more than a trip to the airport. He needed to arrive no less than two hours before our domestic flight. I looked forward to the challenge of making it to the gate right before the airplane doors closed.
The bottom line was, I did not like to wait. This shortsightedness often caused a grave underestimation of how long something would take, which frequently left me and those around me in a bind.
My husband on the other hand, a champion planner, considers every possible scenario. He has an uncanny ability to accurately predict how long something will take. Whether it’s a traffic light, a restaurant meal, a road trip or a home remodel, he can time it down to the very minute.
When we had children, I slowly began to concede that my husband’s way was better than mine. (Maybe not as exciting but better.) Nothing humbles a mama’s heart more than dragging a screaming child out the door or dropping off her tween late to an activity, only because her mother didn’t time manage well.
I’ve realized in the moments when I’m pressed for time is when my patience is stretched thin, my anxiety grows thick, I forget things, and - predictably - I yell.
The past paints an ugly picture: Hurrying hurts those around you.
God knows this and, therefore, never rushes into a solution. He considers every piece of the eternal puzzle. His timing is always best. We may deem it too sudden or too slow, but all throughout the Bible the thread of God’s perfect, and sometimes mysterious, timing is present.
His timing was perfect from the beginning
The creation story reveals an orderly and efficient Creator. Each day, the Lord spoke something magnificent into existence. He could have formed man first or everything all at once, but instead He methodically created a paradise to welcome Adam and Eve into.
On the seventh day, when all was complete, the Lord rested.
God didn’t stop creating because He was tired. Like a perceptive parent who can foresee when his child will be depleted and need a break from the routine, God modeled the Sabbath to establish a rhythm of rest and work for us (Genesis 1-2:1-3).
The wise King Solomon adeptly stated, “there is a time for every activity under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8).
Abraham, the father to the nations, and Sarah his wife, were made to wait 25 years after God’s promise to give them an heir. This timing would have seemed inconceivable to anyone, including 90-year-old Sarah who laughed in disbelief.
But God replied, “Is anything impossible for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14).
And so there is a time to give birth - to a baby, a business, an ambition or new relationship - although it may not be our preferred timing.
But the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, is not bound by time or age, expectations or situations. When we are worn out, burnt out, believed out, and running out of time is when He can best work through us and be glorified by us.
Scripture tells us that God gave Abraham and Sarah their son, Isaac, “at the appointed time” (Genesis 21:2). God was not late. He did not forget. He did not cease to care. The timing of when Isaac was brought into the world was planned and chosen by the Master Time Keeper of the universe.
The Psalm of David echoes God’s sovereign timing: “… all my days were written in your book and planned before a single one of them began” (Psalm 139:16). David was also made to wait, remaining a shepherd boy some 15 years after being chosen to become king of Israel.
And so there is a time to wait - for a reconciliation, a healing, a promotion, an answer – and it may take longer than we’d like.
Queen Esther, a Jewish orphan girl placed in the Persian palace, was chosen “for such a time as this,” to risk her life by going to the king to save the Israelite people from mass genocide (Esther 4:14).
And so there is a time to speak and be brave - for ourselves, for those around us, for the least of these who exist in the shadows of society and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
His timing is perfect in the present
Of course, nothing points to God’s impeccable timing like the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Have you ever wondered why God chose to send Jesus into the world in the 1st century? Why not now when it could be tweeted, Instastoried, filmed and DNA tested?
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman …” (Galatians 4:4-5).
The Greek word for fullness is pleroma, meaning the totality of divine powers, indicating that Christ came at the perfect time when all of the heavenly realms crescendoed into completion.
Just as Jesus entered the world at the right time, He died and rose again at a specific and chosen time.
“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).
The Last Supper and crucifixion took place during Passover, the largest Jewish holiday that commemorated God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt. It had been celebrated for approximately 1,400 years since the Israelites entered the Promised Land. The Jewish people had waited an excruciatingly long time for their Messiah.
Yet God’s timing of even when the Last Supper took place was pleroma – perfectly planned to symbolize that Jesus was the long-awaited Passover Lamb who would deliver mankind once and for all from the slavery of sin.
If you are waiting on something and it has been a painfully long wait, know that God has planned the timing of it. Time spent waiting is not wasted on God’s watch. The timing is a pivotal part of His plan to prosper you and give you a hope and a future. God wants you to experience pleroma - the fullness of who He is and what He wants to do in your life – and timing is an instrumental part of it.
The day of Jesus' burial was during the Festival of the Unleavened Bread. Leaven represented sin in Jewish culture, so the Hebrew people were to rid their homes of it during the festival to signify a holy walk with God. The burial of Jesus on this day is significant because He, the sinless Bread of Life, became sin for us and buried those sins once and for all (II Corinthians 5:21).
Finally, the day Jesus rose again was during the Festival of the Harvests or the Firstfruits. Jesus’ resurrection marked the beginning of the harvest of souls. He was the “firstfruit” raised from the dead to eternal life (I Corinthians 15:20). Jesus likened his death and resurrection to a grain of wheat falling to the ground and dying to produce a great harvest (John 12:24, 32).
If you are grieving from a loss, particularly one that feels “too soon”, know that the timing of when God allowed it to happen is so that there will be a great harvest or a wider ripple effect to bring many more souls to Him. The harder the loss, the deeper God will draw near to you.
As we honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, assassinated at only 39 years old, we may wonder why God allowed him to be taken so young and so tragically. But King knew that our days are not promised and our time is in God’s hands. The night before his death, King gave what would be his last speech that reads prophetic:
“Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land.”
God’s timing, throughout history, is perfect. We certainly don’t always like it or understand it, but our feelings toward His timing doesn’t make it less perfect. If God can plan every last detail for the redemption of mankind, if He can choose when Jesus would live, die and be raised to life, then He can order the timing of events in our own lives for His glory.
God's timing is always providential, never coincidental.
His timing is perfect for the future
God’s timing is pleroma. Never early, never late. Always right on time. This should be a comfort to us, particularly when we don't understand when someone or something is seemingly taken suddenly or delayed indefinitely.
But maybe you’re thinking, I just want my prayer to finally be answered. The sickness cured. The thorn removed. The trial completed. The pain gone. The goal achieved. Can it just finally be done by this mighty and powerful God?
“Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14).
I know we don't like to wait. It can be uncomfortable and irritating and even down right scary. But waiting for the Lord is never wasted time.
When we are waiting, God is working and inviting us to draw near to Him. There is purpose in our pain, purpose in our waiting and purpose in His timing. Waiting for the Lord is always productive.
Are you waiting for something to finally come or to finally be over? Are you in a stage of your life where you feel like your time has passed or that you should be further along?
British poet and theologian Charles Williams said, “fulfill the moment as the moment,” meaning that the only time that really exists is now.
God is preparing you for something, right now. God is protecting you from something, right now. And God is providing for you for something, right now.
And as we wait for Jesus to return, let us be encouraged by the promise that “the Coming One will come and not delay” once the whole world has heard the Gospel (Hebrews 10:37).
Trust when God does or doesn’t allow things to happen. Trust that His timing is pleroma – complete and full of promise. Abide in Jesus and in His perfect timing, for He is never late, never early, but always right on time.