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Of People, Circumstances and Timing

Emily was struggling. As she pursued graduate school admission, her GPA and GRE were not in her favor, and she was convincing herself that she would fail and miss the opportunity to pursue her dream. By the time she completed the application process, she had worked herself into an anxious state. One Sunday evening, Emily attended her church’s small group for the first time in months, and later opened her Bible and journaled her thoughts, also for the first time in months. The next morning, she received a text from a former lab partner with whom she had not been in contact for well over a year. He had been praying that morning and was moved to share with her with a very specific note of encouragement. “I don’t know if you’re a believer, and I’m sorry if this sounds weird to you,” he began, “but I had to tell you this was on my heart: As I was praying, I saw you and I knew I needed to connect with you to tell you God is here for you. He supports you in your goals, and you need to continue your pursuits, because that’s what God is calling you to do and you will be successful with it.”

We have been focusing on how we hear God, notably through His Word, through prayer, and that still, small voice of the Spirit. Yet God also speaks to us through people, circumstances, and timing. We sometimes call these, “God moments.” Is it just a random coincidence, for instance, that God steered Emily to fellowship and the Word one evening, and then within mere hours stirred her lab partner to step out in faith and affirm her for “pursuits” about which he knew nothing? I don’t think so, either. For the Sovereign God works through His creation to meet us at our need, whatever it may be. As Paul wrote to his young protégé Timothy, “be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.”1 Then whether we are called to offer the same to others, as the lab partner did, or we are moved to receive it from others, as Emily did, we also do well to remain watchful and ready.

This is not to suggest we run to people for their answers to our challenges, nor do we run to others with every untested thought about them. Rather, “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God.”2 This is what Emily’s lab partner spoke, and this is what Emily received, both operating in faith.

Father, in Your love You speak to us and through us. Humble us and quiet us, that hearing Your voice and discerning it from all others, we will be faithful to You today. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 2 Timothy 4:2
2 1 Peter 4:11
3 Romans 1:5

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The P Word

“It’s a good thing we didn’t meet each other earlier than we did,” Peggy muses from time to time, “We wouldn’t have been ready for each other, and we might not have been interested.” She is right, for God steadily matures and transforms His children, using us in the moment while molding us for the future. For years, I had prayed earnestly for God to show me the woman who would live life with me, and at the ripe old age of 25, I was becoming discouraged and a little fearful. Then I began to date Peggy, and it wasn’t long before I realized she was God’s “yes” to me. He hadn’t been deaf to my prayers, rather He had been wise in His timing, for I hadn’t been even close to “ready” before then.

I’ve come to see patience as the time element of faith. Trusting God is not just a matter of believing that He can answer our prayers or even that He will; it is also a matter of relying on His perfect “when.” Confident in God’s faithfulness to speak, David also contented himself in the wisdom of His timetable: “Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God.”1 To Israel’s king, patience was an integral part of faith in God, the complete submission of our timing to His: “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”2

Patience is difficult for us, for our natural inclination is to want what we want, and to want it now. In fact, impatience can be an obstacle to hearing God. Moreover, the prospect of developing patience looms in our minds as a long, arduous trial to be endured. “Don’t pray for patience,” we quip, “or you just might get it!” But patience is not of ourselves, rather it is fruit that emerges from within as we offer ourselves to the Holy Spirit. Patience can be as immediate and restful as recognizing that God’s wisdom is infinite, His purposes are pure, and His plan for us—including its timing—far exceeds our own desires. For God will act. It will be beautiful. And it’s worth the wait.

Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.—Isaiah 64:4.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.3 I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.4 Yes, Lord, may this be so.

1 Psalm 38:15
2 Psalm 130:5, emphasis added
3 Psalm 5:3
4 Micah 7:7