The oldest competition in athletics is the 100-meter dash. It was the featured event at the first Olympics in 776 B.C., and today’s race looks pretty much the same as that one—a handful of runners blasting off the blocks, accelerating with a burst of speed that’s over almost as quickly as it starts. The record holder can lay claim to being the fastest man or woman on earth.
“Time trials” are preliminary events in which runners compete, not against each other, but against the clock. This insures that only the top athletes will line up in the stadium. Not many of us are Olympic champions, but each of us faces “time trials” in other ways. Our fast-paced world includes 24-hour-a-day access to the Internet, hundreds of channels on television, and a pace of life that is fatiguing. Our world doesn’t rest anymore; we’re accustomed to sudden service and instant gratification.
In contrast, sometimes it may seem that the Lord is slow to move. Perhaps you have been praying for weeks, months, or even years, and the Lord hasn’t yet answered. You may have an urgent problem, but there’s no resolution in sight.
Not So Fast
Contrary to our lives today, Jesus never seemed in a rush, He kept His own timetable. He never wasted a minute, but He never rushed through a day. We’re not used to that pace, and sometimes it seems to us that Jesus is slow to respond and late on the scene.
On several occasions during His ministry, Jesus appeared to have been tardy. Remember the time Jairus beseeched Jesus to come and heal his dying daughter? Jesus started in that direction but paused to deal with the woman who touched the hem of His garment. At first it appeared that He arrived too late! Christ was working on a different schedule, patiently waiting until all the circumstances were correctly aligned for the fulfilling of His purposes. He still employs the same keen, impeccable sense of divine timing today in answering our prayers and directing our lives.
There’s an interesting dichotomy in the book of Psalms that illustrates the “time trials” of life. In reading the Psalms, we run across phrases like the end of Psalm 27: “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!” Yet the same authors who tell us to “wait on the Lord” also ask, “How long . . . ?” (Psalm 13:1, 35:17)
We’re told to patiently “wait on the Lord”; on the other hand, we are impatient people with urgent needs. The secret is placing ourselves in His hands and pacing ourselves according to His timetable.
Here is an example of God’s perfect timing. Trans World Radio was founded by Dr. Paul Freed in 1952. He had a burden for reaching Europe and Asia for Christ by means of radio. While visiting Tangier, Freed discovered an open door for a missionary radio station. Tangier is just across the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain, so the location was excellent. Soon “The Voice of Tangier” was on the air. The ministry grew and developed, and Paul knew it needed to expand; but they experienced unexpected delays, and for the first time, the funds didn’t come in. Suddenly, at the end of 1959, the Moroccan government announced that all radio installations in the country were to be nationalized—every radio station was taken over by the government. If Trans World Radio had invested those large sums of money in the facility at Tangier, it would have been lost, and, in fact, would have begun broadcasting Islamic messages.
Instead, during this same time, the Lord providentially arranged a new set of circumstances that resulted in TWR’s moving across the Strait of Gibraltar to Monaco. Dr. Freed then realized that the delays, disappointments, and postponements were all part of God’s plan for something better.
The Lord Jesus Christ knows the end from the beginning, and the apparent delays in life are simply God’s way of aligning circumstances for our benefit. Wisdom and maturity are found in learning to tell time on God’s clock, to develop a sense of His timing, and to know when to work and when to wait. If you’re facing a time trial, don’t compete with God’s timing, place your hope in Him.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder and host of Turning Point for God and senior pastor of
Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
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