His Perfect Timing
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I hate being late. When there’s an important event—church, work, or class—I like to arrive at least ten minutes early. That morning, we arrived ten minutes late. Being late makes me feel like I don’t belong in the place that I’m going, like I didn’t care enough to arrive on time and thus don’t deserve to be there. …
This vaguely reminded me of a parable Jesus told in which a landowner journeyed out to find workers for his vineyard. He began his search at 9 a.m. and found some individuals. He set off again at noon and more people agreed to come and work. The landowner continued this until he had people working from the morning until the day’s end.
When he approached his laborers with their wages, they were all surprised to receive the same amount of money. The people who showed up in the morning earned the same as those who came for the last ten minutes of the workday! The early birds felt a little peeved, to say the least.
They thought they deserved more because they had worked harder and longer. But the landowner countered by stating that he did not act unfairly, because he had the right to do what he wanted with the money.
He wished to give everyone the same reward.
After my whole morning went off track, I felt a little embarrassed to walk into church. Then, I was met with the most beautiful surprise. As my father and I ascended the stairs up to the narthex of the building, one of the greeters rested his eyes upon us, smiled wide, handed us our worship folders, and uttered the most invitational words: “Perfect timing, friends! We’ve been waiting for you …”
Having riddled myself with feelings of unworthiness, his words pierced my soul right when I needed them most. Somehow, I was welcome. At that moment, I felt the pull of Jesus inviting me into a life enveloped in His grace. …
We are all invited to do life with God, no matter what time we arrive. When we show up to life with Him, any timing is perfect, because Jesus has always been the endgame.
Sometimes, we don’t want to approach God because we don’t feel worthy. We wait to show up until we look our best with lives in perfect order. In the meantime, we inflict ourselves with feelings of inadequacy and shame. However, He accepts us no matter what condition we’re in and asks us to sit at His table.
I look forward to the day when we all—the people who have patiently waited all their lives for Jesus and the ones who have only met Him in their final breaths—become reunited in heaven to share the glory of God. I imagine Jesus Himself standing at the golden gates, ushering His children in with a welcoming smile on His face… “Perfect timing, friends. I’ve been waiting for you.”—Mikayla Briggs1
God’s timing is perfect, and He has the final say
There are three important lessons we can learn in John 11 about how to hang on in times of crisis. Jesus gets word that His friend Lazarus is critically ill. Much to His disciples’ astonishment, Jesus doesn’t run to heal him, but stays for two days before leaving. When Jesus arrives in Bethany, at the home of Lazarus and his two sisters, He learns that Lazarus died four days earlier.
Lesson 1: God’s timing is always perfect. God’s never early, never late, but always on time. Our timing isn’t God’s timing. For us, God’s timing often feels like a long, desperate delay.
God’s perfect timing does two things: It grows our faith as we are forced to wait and trust in God, and it makes certain that He, and He alone, gets the glory and praise for pulling us through. “My times are in Your hands ...” (Psalm 31:15).
At the right time, God will provide your need. At the right time, God will deliver you. At the right time, God will rescue you. …
Lesson 2: God’s ways are not our ways. “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9).
God has eternal perspective! God is the great “I AM” (Yahweh) who knows the past, present, and future. And what do we know? Nothing really. Nothing compared to God. If I were Jesus, I would’ve healed Lazarus right away. But Jesus wanted to stretch the faith of His disciples, who after His death would be the catalysts to taking the message of Christ to the world. They knew Jesus had the power to heal people—but to raise a four-day-old corpse? Come on, that’s taking faith to a whole new level. …
Lesson 3: God always has the final say. No matter how terrible and impossible the situation appears, how awful you feel, or how there appears to be no answer, no help, no hope, God will see you through because He and He alone has the final say. …
Lazarus was dead and decaying for four days in that tomb. That’s more than a period, that’s an exclamation mark! But it wasn’t over. God put a comma in that place. And Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, his organs functioning, the rotting skin is made new again. …
The world put a period after Jesus’s crucifixion and death. But God always has the last say. On the third day God raised Jesus from the dead, and He’s alive! “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? ... But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:55–57.)
Because of Jesus Christ, death and the grave no longer have the last say in our lives. Jesus has the last say.—William Thomas2
In the nick of time
God’s timing is amazing! Several years ago, when I was working some weekends at a hospital, I was asked to look after an elderly woman in an emergency unit, who was extremely thin and weak from advanced cancer. From the moment I entered the room, she poured out her distress. I tried to encourage her, but was met with anger, negativity, and even insults. So I decided to simply do my job, and so busied myself with various physical jobs.
While she was sleeping I sat down and read some devotional literature. One story that stood out to me was of a man who had been involved in the occult, and then came to full salvation in Christ. Because of his decision of faith, not only was he set free, but many others were as well.
I pondered what I had read and was sorry I had given up on this woman so easily. I only had half an hour before my shift ended, but I decided to give it a try.
When the woman awoke, I told her, “I don’t know why all this has happened to you, but one thing I do know is this: No matter what, Jesus loves you and wants to be your best friend. He can heal your sorrows and bitterness and restore joy in your life. He stands at the door of your heart and is just waiting for you to let Him in. Why not ask Him into your heart and life?”
To my amazement, the woman started to cry. She eagerly prayed with me to receive Jesus as her Savior, and asked for my forgiveness for having treated me so harshly. She didn’t live much longer, but when she passed away, she was a truly changed soul, ready to meet her Maker.
Another experience I had also shows God’s miraculous timing. I was in a little town in Denmark on a walking street when a teenage girl came walking my way. I offered her a Christian tract, and she stopped and received it.
I asked her if she believed in God, and she said no. I then asked if she believed in love. At that, she brightened up and said she did. I explained that God is love, and that with His help we can live lives of love and purpose. She then humbly prayed with me, excused herself, and went her way.
Two weeks later I received an envelope in my mailbox. Inside were two letters—one from this girl’s mother and one from her. Her mother wrote: “It was my daughter’s last wish for me to send this letter from her to you. My daughter is now dead, but she wanted to let you know how much meeting you had meant to her.”
In her letter, the girl wrote: “I am now entering into the darkness, but it is with the knowledge that love is real and that there is a great Light awaiting me. Before I met you I was afraid to die, but now I am at peace.”
Her note brought me to tears, as I had no idea that she was in the critical stages of an illness. I was reminded of the verse where Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die” (John 11:25–26).—Peter Ericsson
Published on Anchor January 2024. Read by Debra Lee. Music by Michael Dooley.