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, arms and legs flying like pistons, accelerating with a burst of speed that’s over almost as quickly as it starts.
Not many of us are Olympic champions, but we all face “time trials” in other ways. Our fast-paced world is getting faster. If I can’t sleep, I can turn on the television and watch any one of a hundred different channels throughout the night, most of them thoroughly worthless. If I go to my desk, I have 24-hour-a-day access to e-mail and the Internet. If I go down the street, I can shop at the grocery store at 3 in the morning. Our world doesn’t sleep anymore; we’re accustomed to sudden service and instant gratification.
In contrast, the Lord sometimes seems to move exceedingly slowly. Perhaps you feel that way right now. You may have been praying for weeks, months, or even years, and the Lord hasn’t yet answered your request. Maybe you have an urgent problem, but there’s no resolution in sight.
Not So Fast
Remember that Jesus walked wherever He went. He never seemed in a rush. He kept His own timetable, operated at His own speed. He never wore a watch, but He always knew the hour. 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. When the disciples were caught in the storm on Galilee, He tarried until the “fourth watch,” sometime between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m. He could easily have rescued them at 9 p.m., and all could have enjoyed a good night’s sleep; yet He waited.
Or remember the time Jairus beseeched Jesus to come and heal his daughter who was at the point of death. Jesus started in that direction but paused to deal with the woman who touched the hem of His garment. He arrived at Jairus’ house too late, or so it seemed.
Similarly, when our Lord heard that His friend Lazarus was sick, He tarried two more days in the place where He was, and Lazarus died.
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 in answering our prayers and directing our lives.
Wisdom and maturity are found in learning to tell time on God’s clock, to develop a sense of His timing, to know when to work and when to wait.
Placing and Pacing
There’s an interesting dichotomy in the book of Psalms that illustrates the “time trials” of life. Quite often, the writers of the Psalms extol the virtue of waiting on the Lord. In reading the Psalms, we run across phrases like the end of Psalm 27: “Wait on the LORD; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!” Yet the same authors who tell us to “wait on the Lord” also keep asking, “How long . . . ?”
There are twenty-eight “waits” in the book of Psalms, and eighteen “how longs.” We can identify with this dilemma. On one hand, we’re told to patiently “wait on the Lord”; on the other hand, we are impatient people with urgent needs. When we’re in distress, pain, or adversity, we cry out, “Lord, how long?”
The secret is placing ourselves in His hands and pacing ourselves according to His timetable.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last (Revelation 1:8). He knows the end from the beginning, and the apparent delays in life are simply God’s way of aligning circumstances for our benefit. You can trust His timing.
Dr. Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point for God, and serves as Senior Pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, California.
For more information about Turning Point, go to www.DavidJeremiah.org.