Timing Is Everything
It is said that timing is everything.
When people use this cliche, it seems to be a cure-all salve to almost any problem. Relationship didn’t work out? Timing is everything. You didn’t get that promotion you’ve been waiting on? Timing is everything. New Year’s resolution not quite working out for you? Timing is everything.
I even say it to myself.
Several years ago now I was asked to help out with a city-wide women’s Bible study. It seemed like the incredible opportunity I had been looking for. God had been cultivating in me a desire to teach others about His Word, and this leadership position with this ministry seemed like a golden opportunity. Honestly, the timing seemed perfect -- God gave me a desire, I prayed, and the opportunity landed in my lap. Boom.
But soon I began to realize that this opportunity wasn’t as golden as I wanted it to be. First of all, I found myself teaching Bible study to 3rd and 4th graders, who although eager, were not my audience of choice. Also, the leader meetings were at 5 a.m. before a full day of work, and there was a LOT of preparation I had to do on top of being very busy.
After a few weeks into the commitment, a frustrated prayer slowly rose to the surface of my heart, and it sounded something like this, “Really, God? This isn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to teach the Bible but not like this. This doesn’t make any sense to me. The timing feels off.”
If I’m being transparent, when things (even godly things) don’t work out the way I envision, my gut reaction is to blame God’s purpose and timing. So I walk away from circumstances like these thinking if only the timing had been better, things would’ve worked out. I blame time, and I move on.
But what if time is way more than just a scapegoat for not getting what we want?
What if it’s a vehicle (if not THE vehicle), God uses to build our faith, to teach us His ways?
What if His perfect timing aids in our belief?
Fortunately for us, Jesus Himself speaks about His own timing in John 11:1-45. This might be a familiar story, but let me set it up for you.
Jesus and His disciples hear from a messenger that a dear friend, Lazarus, is sick. And even though Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha (also Jesus’ friends), had begged Jesus to come directly to their ailing brother, we see in verse 6 that Jesus decides to stay where they were for two more days.
After those two days, Jesus leads his followers to go back to Judea and the house of Lazarus. His explanation to the disciples is interesting:
“Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus has died, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.’” John 11:14-15
When Jesus arrives, He prays to God, and then He heals Lazarus. Here is His prayer:
“So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.’” John 11:41-42
So let’s take a moment and analyze Jesus’ choices. We know He is sovereign and all-knowing, so we can assume Jesus knew His really good friend was dying when He got the message from Mary and Martha. He also knew the pain and suffering Lazarus was experiencing, being ill until death, as well as the hopelessness his sisters would be feeling at his bedside.
I’m sure Jesus also felt similarly. We see in verses 3 and 5 that He really loved Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. And, later in verse 35 we see that Jesus wept when He arrived at Lazarus’ tomb. He was probably experiencing a depth of similar emotion.
But what does Jesus choose to do? He waits two whole days before even starting towards Judea. In fact, we see that He waits until his close friend dies before He acts.
It looks crazy. Even reading this closely yet again, I am struck by how little sense this decision makes in the earthly realm. I know if I knew my friend was dying, that I was the only one who could help, I’d jump on the nearest donkey and head as fast as I could to their bedside.
Yet here is where my will and Jesus will diverges. I would want to save my friend because it would mean the most for me. It would mean less pain and hurt for myself.
But Jesus’ agenda encompassed more than just saving Lazarus, and thereby avoiding personal pain and hurt. He was in the business of winning souls, not being selfish or self-oriented. He knew that the miracle of raising his friend after being dead four days would strike a chord with many. We see that in verse 45:
“Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him…” John 11:45
Through our Savior’s unorthodox choices, not only was he able to deepen the belief of the disciples, but He also gained the belief of the many Jews who witnessed the miracle. It’s the quintessential situation where the ends completely justified the means.
A couple of years ago, I heard a pastor say that, “time is the servant of God, and the taskmaster of the enemy,” and I believe this passage of scripture illustrates this concept perfectly.
Jesus used time as the vehicle to accomplish what was best for the people. He saw the whole picture. Which is something I forget when timing doesn’t seem to fall into place for my own plans and wishes. I usually only focus on my own experience, emotions, and circumstances.
But, God is above all time, so His plans take into consideration all I am currently dealing with, all I will have to do, and all those around me. He not only sees my picture, but what’s above it, below it, around it, under it. He sees everything.
Therefore, His timing is always going to be what is best for me. Even when it doesn’t make any sense.
That was true when I look back at that opportunity to serve at that women’s Bible study. Even though it seemed like a move in the wrong direction, I trusted God and obeyed anyway (although maybe a little hesitantly).
The rewards were huge.
You see I didn’t know that today I would be a contributing writer for Reaching Her, a website dedicated to training women in how to study the Bible. I didn’t know I would be writing Bible studies for those women. I didn’t know I would be blogging about what God teaches me through His word.
I had no clue.
But that season where I was teaching the Bible to students was a time of training and discipline that directly affects what I do on a daily basis in my life and for Reaching Her. Today I can say that season of my life is irreplaceable.
I had no clue, but my Lord did.
It is said that timing is everything. It is.
There will be instances in my life where what God chooses to do may make no sense. The timing will feel off, and I will have to wait for what is next. But instead of blaming time or God, I’m going to choose to lean in to what God is doing right here and right now.
You never know what’s next.
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook