Sometimes we just don't understand God's sense of timing. We see the death of a child and think, "How could God let them die so young? They had so much of life left to experience!" Or a friend moves away and we think, "It's not fair! I wanted them here with me longer!" A prayer is not answered immediately and we wonder, "Why is it taking so long?"
Although it may be beyond our comprehension, God's timing is perfect! A brief examination of scripture points out how detailed his planning and timing is:
Genesis 15 - God tells Abram that he will have a son - even many descendants. He even gives him a timeline for his descendants regarding their future enslavement in Egypt - and this no less than 14 years before the prophesied son is born! In Genesis 18, after Abraham and Sarah have impatiently tried to impose their own solution, God reaffirms that He will give them a son - in just one more year!
Esther 4:14 "...And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" God ordained that Esther would be queen at this exact time so that she might be used of God to save the Israelites from annihilation.
Ecclesiastes 3:1 "There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under heaven."
Jesus stated in John 2:4 "My time has not yet come." There was an appointed time for His ministry to begin - and an appointed time for Him to say, "It is finished." In the same Gospel, fifteen chapters later, Jesus prayed, "Father, the time has come" shortly before being betrayed and crucified. Any number of times during his ministry, the Pharisees and Scribes had surrounded him and sought to stone him or arrest him, and he simply walked past them - his time had not yet come. If God so carefully planned the timing of Jesus' ministry and crucifixion - do we think He has given no thought to the timing of events in our lives?
There are so many more scriptures that speak of God's timing - but I don't want to get caught up in listing scriptures and fail to make the point: God's timing is perfect! God's protection is perfect! His people do not pass away 'too soon'! They pass from this life when they have completed every bit of the assignment that He had for them. They enter His rest, welcomed by a multitude of angels and beam in joy as God declares, "Well done, my good and faithful servant!" Is that because they were perfect? Of course not. It is because God is perfect; and his Holy Spirit is able to perfectly enable us to accomplish His purpose for our lives.
In "Jesus the One and Only" last week, Beth Moore talked about the timing of God in relation to the two witnesses described in Revelation. She pointed out how they were able to easily repel any attack until the three and a half years they were given elapsed. When the time was over, they were overcome and killed. Because their job was done; their time was up! She makes a radical statement that is worth repeating, "Death cannot come to the obedient children of God until they have finished their testimony." Be sure to note the phrase 'the OBEDIENT children of God' - we must not look to test God. But if we are serving Him in obedience, we also must not live in fear! Look at the life of Paul! Beaten, shipwrecked (3 times!), stoned, imprisoned...but until his time had come and he had 'finished the race', he was invincible! The enemy can create trouble for us, that's for sure; but Satan cannot thwart the plans of God. I would suggest that this does not only apply to thwarting God's plans through our 'premature' death, but also to anything that would end the testimony of an obedient servant of God before God's appointed time.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:8-9, "But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me." His time there was not complete. Though there was opposition; God had not yet released him to move on to Corinth. We experienced a similar situation in reverse - although we had no clear plan in mind for where God was calling us to go, we had peace that our time in that place was through! It wasn't due to opposition, trials, or anything else - except that God had said that our time was up! Of course, we might not have had a plan in mind, but God most certainly did. And we learned about it on a 'need to know' basis - when we needed to know, He revealed it to us! Initially, it was a little unsettling to be in ministry on an 'interim' basis. But I've come to realize that it really is no different. We are where God has us for as long as He has us there until the work He has planned for us to accomplish is completed - our job is to serve in obedience to the Holy Spirit for whatever time that is!
One final point on God's perfect timing: Before Jesus ascended into heaven after His resurrection, He told the disciples, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." In Matthew 24:36, He told them, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." There is a time coming when Jesus will return to earth and although we do not know the time, it was carefully planned by God from the foundations of the earth and it is certain. When it does, it will be as if a timer has rung: Ding! Your time is up!