Understanding God’s Timing

If you read my previous post on the role that waiting plays in the Christian faith, then you identify with the need to understand better how God’s timing works. (If you haven’t read Perseverance Makes Faith Productive, you can click here.)

I know that I’m not the only one who frets over time and the perceived time needed for a circumstance to come to pass. I would say that for most of my life I have lived with a time-focused mindset. To a fault, really. I drive myself and my family crazy over it. But, I can see some loosening up in this area. We’re all works in progress, right?

God’s love surpasses knowledge (See Ephesians 3:19), so I don’t pretend to have Him all figured out. No one does. He is, in fact, incomprehensible! Yet, my God delights in my seeking to know Him and to understand His ways.

On the topic of God’s timing and how He moves in keeping with His promises, Scripture offers much needed revelation. God created time, and it serves His purpose of an ordered universe, but He exists outside of time. God measures differently, and that determines when He acts. For instance, when the Lord spoke to Abraham about the Israelites’ future possession of the promised land, He placed emphasis not on a calendar date, but on the activity of people. “In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure” (Genesis 15:16). And, another instance in which God determines when He will act based on His measuring of people is when God speaks of the fulfillment of Israel’s redemption. “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…” (Romans 5:25-26).  Finally, Revelation 6:10-11 presents the martyrs in heaven asking God, “How long until You avenge our blood?” God said they were to “wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.”

So God’s measuring is not the movement of clock hands and the passage of calendar years, although He can omnisciently coordinate the fullment of His promise with a calendar year! His measuring is seen in the illustration of a water park feature- the tipping bucket of water. Maybe you have seen how this works: The playground structure in a shallow pool of water has a huge bucket at the apex. Water is piped into the bucket, and when it reaches full capacity, it tips and pours down upon the children at ground level. The blessing of God’s promise pours out in the same manner- when what He has been measuring finally reached its fullness.

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

Because we think and live in timeline fashion, our human experience is one of limitation.  We understand that we have the past, and we can look back at it and reflect upon it; we understand the present reality, and we can look ahead with a shadowy understanding of the future and the possibilities it holds for us. This is time known as chronos in the Greek, from which we get the word chronology. And because that’s the limitation of our understanding of time, we try to assign the same to the Father in heaven!

So what is one to do while he waits upon God?  “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:10).

And, keep in mind that God is not limited to time and space. What He is doing behind the scenes is entirely trustworthy. He’s working in the hearts of people, and He’s at work in you! When He is satisfied with what He measures, get ready! The flow of His grace comes with expediency and ease. That is what is known in Greek as kairos time- a favorable moment. His favor is so apparently at work in your situation that you cannot help but shout His praises! And that is exactly what the Lord was hoping to bring you to: a place where His name is exalted in your life.

Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You. Your name and renown are the desire of our heart (Isaiah 26:8).

  • In what circumstance has the passage of time been a cause for you to worry?
  • What more do you perceive is going on behind the scenes?
  • What is your action plan during this current wait upon God and His fulfilling His promise?

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