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The adage informs us that “timing is everything.” I’m sure there’s quite a bit of truth to that, but sometimes it gets a bit confusing.
For instance, we’ve probably all experienced being in the right place at the right time. I remember applying for a job once just as the previous editor of the newspaper had resigned. My timing couldn’t have been better. It turned out to be a great job for me, a giant step along my career path.
However, we also hear about people being at the right place at the wrong time.
Does that mean arriving at the right airport gate, but five minutes after the plane had begun to taxi down the runway? Or applying for a job right after it’s been filled?
We often hear about people being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Tragic crimes that happen outside a bar at 2: 30 in the morning come immediately to mind. Wrong place – and definitely the wrong time. But what about being at the wrong place at the right time? Is there ever a right time to be at the wrong place?
I’ve been pondering the whole timing is everything thing. Especially concerning our relationship with God. Take, for example, the account of Jesus; His friend Lazarus, who was gravely ill; and his sisters, Mary and Martha. In John 11 it says, “the sisters sent word to Jesus, ‘Lord, the one you love is sick.’” By this time, Jesus’ healing powers were well-known, so the sisters obviously were begging for help.
Did Jesus tell His followers, “Drop everything, guys, Lazarus is really sick. We need to go assist him immediately”? Nope. Instead, Jesus responded, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Then, even though He fully understood the sisters’ distress and their urgent plea, the passage says, “He stayed where He was two more days.”
Wow! The first time I read this passage, it made me think of the sarcastic EMT who quipped, “When seconds count, we’re only minutes away!” But Jesus knew what He was doing. He wasn’t uncaring, nor was He indifferent. He had a plan.
After the two days He announced, “Let us go back to Judea…. Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to wake him up.” His disciples, often a clueless bunch, shrugged their shoulders. “‘Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better.’” So Jesus clarified the situation: “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”
If you’re familiar with the “rest of the story,” Jesus arrived after Lazarus had already been in his tomb for four days. The two sisters separately ran to greet him, but both declared, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” He went to the tomb and, observing the grief of the sisters and Lazarus’s other family members and friends, did what’s described by the Bible’s shortest verse: “Jesus wept.”
However, His tears were not in mourning for his deceased friend; they reflected the empathy He felt for those who grieved, and also for the pain of a world ravaged by sin. Because Jesus’ next step was to raise Lazarus from the dead, stating why He had waited to respond: “…that they may believe that [God the Father] sent Me.”
Even though this story happened 2,000 years ago, there’s much we can learn from it for today. It’s not just about Jesus’ miraculous powers, although that’s significant enough. It also dramatically demonstrates why God’s timing frequently isn’t the same as ours.
We pray for the healing of a diseased loved one, implying, “and right now, please.” Or we pray to find a job – or a new one – and wonder why the Lord seems so slow in answering. We pray about a difficult marriage, broken relationships, or financial struggles, and fret because God doesn’t seem to be paying attention.
If the Lord were to explain to us at those moments – and He’s under no obligation to explain anything He does – He might indeed say, “Timing is everything.” He may be ordering circumstances to provide us with an answer that surpasses what we were asking for, because He is “able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3: 20).
God also might be timing His response so that when it comes, there can be no doubt that He is the source of the solution. In the passage about Jesus and Lazarus, the Lord told Mary, Martha and His other followers, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40).
We were created to love the Lord, to trust Him, and as an opening statement from the old Westminster Confession says, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Since this doesn’t come to us naturally, sometimes the best way He can teach this to us is through His divine and perfect timing. Even Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection took place “at just the right time” (Romans 5:6).
So as we consider whether “timing is everything,” we can trust that the God who knows everything also knows the right timing.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly published, ”Marketplace Ambassadors”; “Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace”; “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” A weekly business meditation he edits, “Monday Manna,” is translated into more than 20 languages and sent via email around the world by CBMC International. The address for his blog is www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. His email address is [email protected]
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