A storm descends on a small town, and the downpour soon turns into a flood. As the waters rise, the local preacher kneels in prayer on the church porch, surrounded by water. By and by, one of the townsfolk comes up the street in a canoe. “Better get in, Preacher. The waters are rising fast.”
“No,” says the preacher. “I have faith in the Lord. He will save me.”
Still the waters rise. Now the preacher is up on the balcony, wringing his hands in supplication, when another guy zips up in a motorboat. “Come on, Preacher. We need to get you out of here. The levee’s gonna break any minute.” Once again, the preacher is unmoved. “I shall remain. The Lord will see me through.”
After a while the levee breaks, and the flood rushes over the church until only the steeple remains above water. The preacher is up there, clinging to the cross, when a helicopter descends out of the clouds, and a state trooper calls down to him through a megaphone. “Grab the ladder, Preacher. This is your last chance.” Once again, the preacher insists the Lord will deliver him.
And, predictably, he drowns. A pious man, the preacher goes to heaven. After a while he gets an interview with God, and he asks the Almighty, “Lord, I had unwavering faith in you. Why didn’t you deliver me from that flood?” God shakes his head. “What did you want from me? I sent you two boats and a helicopter.”
What time is it? Is normally answered using a clock. But it can be answered a bunch of different ways. It’s time to eat, take a shower, pick up the kids, take down the Christmas decorations.
Time is important. Timing is everything. Time isn’t a choice. Timing is.
The day after Christmas my family and I flew up to New Hampshire to stay with John and Sylvia Shaw. We saw snow, went to NYC, and drove up to Mt. Washington and the twins even got to ski for a little while. Long story.
But not only did we stay with John and Sylvia, but they helped out with the costs of our vacation. Twelve years after John retired from here, he and Sylvia still love me and my family, and vice versa.
Some twenty-one years ago, when I had been here only for about a year as associate pastor, John’s dad died. I didn’t know it right away. One day, John made his way over from his office to mine. He stopped at the door of my office, hanging out in the doorway, which is not something he normally
did. I remember he didn’t look his normal self. He told me that his dad had died—sometime very recently is all I can remember. I asked him if he would like to come in and sit down. He did, and he told me some stories about his dad.
Sometime later, when we started to become close friends, he told me that was a pivotal moment for him. He saw me differently from then on. I cared about him. I wasn’t just an associate pastor. From that one question—“Do you want to sit down”—some twenty years later, through many days and nights of work and friendship, came a truly special trip.
As you all know, I didn’t do anything you wouldn’t have done. It was all in the timing. It wasn’t much either. How many words were there? Six, I think. And I let him talk.
Sometimes great timing is going to feel natural, something anyone can do. Sometimes it’s not. It’s going to feel hard, even if it’s fewer words, like three: “I love you.” That could feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain to someone to say it to someone else. Or how about two words: “I’m sorry.” Two boulders up two mountains.
And here with these, probably, timing isn’t as important than that you do it at all. What I mean is that if you tell yourself I would say these if the timing is right, then the “right time” may not come. Sometimes we’ve got to make timing work for us. Just say it. Turn a mundane moment into a life-changing time bomb. We can blow up the past and rebuild a future in a moment, in a snap. Anytime you can do that, it’s the right time! Your timing couldn’t be better.
You want to be ready to reach your destiny at a moment’s notice because it’s always the right timing to do that. You’re supposed to step into the batter’s box. Be willing to do something important, even if it’s only saying six words, or two.
Our scripture tells us we don’t know the work of God, but we’re supposed to send out our bread upon the waters. We’re supposed to put our good stuff out there, and we will see the return.
God is a mystery for a very good reason. The Lord deserves to be untouchable by us. Holiness has its advantages. This isn’t going to change, but what can change is our attitude toward not knowing exactly what we’re supposed to do and when we’re supposed to do it. We want to have the attitude of: If not now, then when.
If you don’t find right now to be the right time to get that work done, to study hard, to believe in yourself, then when? If not now for jump starting your exercising, dieting, being a better lover emotionally and physically, then when? I know we want to know beforehand that this is the right time to make the leap, but…. Look, you’re not going to know. But I can tell you this, your hunch is correct. Your spidey sense is tingling; it’s that feeling you get when you keep talking to yourself about something really important, about someone really important, about doing something you keep thinking about, yeah, that’s the one God wants you to go with.
If you don’t think God’s in this stuff, then you want to change your thinking. The Lord’s working hard opening doors that we keep walking past. Sometimes they’re open a lot longer than we know.
When Alex and Donna Voutsinas were photographed together at Disney World, they didn’t know each other. In fact, they didn’t even live in the same country. But fifteen years later, they met and married:
That fateful realization came just one week before their wedding. Alex and Donna had been going through old family snapshots. There, in the blurry background of a picture of 5-year-old Donna was 3-year-old Alex being pushed down Main Street at the same moment in 1980 by his father. (John Farrier, “Disney Photo Captured Married Couple on Film 15 Years Before They Met,” Odd News, June 13, 2010.)
Now that’s crazy.
King David thought he was going to be the one who was going to build the Lord God a temple, and of course not just any temple but a magnificent temple. The Bible tells us that David knew his heart was for God and since he was the one who had been anointed to be king by the prophet Samuel, had fought battle after battle against Philistines, had taken enough territory and united all of the Israelite tribes, and had finally come to the small city of Jerusalem, at the time in the control of Jebusite tribe, and had taken it, that naturally he would be the one to bring the ark of the covenant, in which the tablets Moses had written the ten commandments on, to a new, incredible temple.
He was wrong. God said you’re not the right man because your hands have too much blood on them, and this isn’t the right time. It will happen in Solomon’s time so that Solomon your son oversees it.
David had the gold and the silver and the hope. But he didn’t have the timing. He wasn’t the person God needed.
We’re not always going to be able to be the right one at the right time. Your dreams have to fit with who you are as a person, and with God’s right
as the one putting together our lives. But I can guarantee you this: what belongs to you is more than big enough. What you’re supposed to be doing will require more than you’re presently doing. God’s view of you is bigger than yours, for sure. There’s no need to worry that you’ve already outgrown what God has in mind.
The question is one of timing and territory. If not now, then when? If not here, then where? Do what’s yours right now. Growth starts here.
Isn’t this one of the things that was amazing about Christ? He didn’t have his ministry planned out, organized. He literally walked his way through it. What came at him, came at him. Who found him, found him. Where he was, was where he was. It doesn’t look like timing is an issue because his time was completely made up of timing. He intervened in people’s lives in a really good way. He made any moment become the moment.
Man, I love that about Jesus. Anyone he met is just brought into his circle of life. And he had so much life that his circle was so big. Who cares if you’re deaf or blind, I’m going to put my hands on you or pray for you. Your daughter is dead, your son is damaged beyond belief by demons, I want them. They belong to me. I want to see them, touch them, and heal them, and give them back to you so you may be glad and see how much God loves you.
Christ saved everyone he could during his lifetime. At any moment. In any place.
He’s still trying to save us. Your God-given destiny is to be saved. You want to be healed. We’re deaf to the call. We’re blind to the direction. We’re dead to the life. We’re possessed by what hurts us. God is claiming now is the right time. You are nearer to salvation than you have ever been. Go meet Christ Jesus. Let him bring you into his circle of life. The timing is right. Let the Lord bring you new life and full life.
The truth is we may be good at filling up our time but that doesn’t mean we’re good at timing. You may have good habits that squeeze high quantity and some good quality out of the seconds, minutes, hours, days you have. But timing is what you want to have. Timing is what God wants you to have. It’s what makes a moment into the moment. It’s what makes a plain day into a day of destiny.
Are you ready to reach your destiny? Are you ready to step into the batter’s box? Are you ready to do something important? Let the Lord save you, and then go and do likewise. Can the church say Amen?