I’m sure most of you have seen Lord of the Rings. Many of you have even read the books. Some probably know that the book is full of Christian symbols and metaphors. Just take a moment a look at the amount of sacrifice and redemption that is contained in the story.
One of the things that stands out the most to me is the scene where Frodo is eagerly awaiting Gandalf’s arrival. He is filled with anticipation to see Gandalf again, but is frustrated because Gandalf didn’t show up when Frodo expected.
Then Frodo sees Gandalf coming down the road in the distance and rushes to meet him. When he reaches Gandalf he looks and tells him, “You’re late.”
Gandalf responds with a stern look, “A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to.” Then the two friends smile and laugh together.
I imagine myself waiting for God just like Frodo waits for Gandalf. Eager with anticipation, but wondering what is taking him so long? We all do this. People in the Bible did this. But God’s timing is perfect and the evidence of that is everywhere.
Over the past year I have become a big fan of the television show Doctor Who. For those that are not familiar with the show, it is about a time traveler that is called The Doctor. He travels through time and along the way fixes all sorts of problems from alien invasions, ghost hauntings, and giant robots attacking cities.
Basically, if there is a problem, The Doctor shows up to fix it. He always come into a situation and declares, “I’m the Doctor. I’m here to help.” And he always manages to save the day.
He can’t change everything, though. One of the plot elements is that some points of time are fixed. They have to happen. It avoids messy scenarios like why can’t The Doctor kill Hitler. It is very similar to the way God views time.
We sometimes forget or don’t understand that God sees all events at once. Time does not exist to him. He views the past, present, and future all at once. So, just like The Doctor he shows up to help when he is needed, but some things must happen in this world. We may not understand “why” they have to happen, but we don’t need to if we have faith that God is good.
In 2 Peter 3:9 it says, “The Lord does not delay and is not tardy or slow about what He promises, according to some people’s conception of slowness, but He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance.” God is waiting for us just as much as we wait for him and when he chooses to arrive, it is just the right moment. When God acts, he swiftly acts. Remember his return will happen in a twinkling of an eye.
WHAT A RUSH
We rush all of the time and I have not met anyone that has turned out the better for it. For example, everyone has put off a school assignment to the last-minute. Then you rush it, but it is never as good as it could have been. You end up with a “C”, but if you started earlier you could have had that “A”.
What if Van Gough rushed his Starry Night? It would have been an imperfect painting. What if C.S. Lewis rushed The Chronicles of Narnia? Aslan may not have the loving audience he does today.
As a kid I would try to rush through video games so I could brag to my friends that I beat the game. I would get so angry when I lost, too. For some reason I was too thick-headed to learn to slow down and enjoy the moment or take my time. The whole reason I played video games was because I found them to be fun, but when I rushed in order to see the ending of a game, it was no longer any fun.
COULDN’T WAIT ANY LONGER
Things always get messy when we don’t wait for God to show up. When we try to take things into our own hands we tend to make things worse. It is like we’ll never be able to understand that there are things only God can take care of. What we forgot is that God knows the perfect moment to take of things because he transcends time.
Abraham is known as a man of faith, but he couldn’t wait any longer when it came to having a son. He knew God was going to bless him with children, but didn’t know how. So, when his wife, Sarah, told him to sleep with their servant, Hagar, he did, but it stirred up conflict between the two women when Hagar became pregnant. Eventually, Hagar ran off from the abuse she was receiving and gave birth to Ishmael.
Basically, they tried to rush God and royally screwed things up. God’s timing was much later, when it was impossible for Abraham and Sarah to conceive because they were too old. That was meaningless to God because their age only presented a chance for a miracle.
The problem arises when Sarah gives birth to Isaac and God establishes his covenant with him, which doesn’t settle well with Ishmael. This starts a feud that trickles down through the ages. Today, the nation of Islam believes themselves to be the inheritors of Ishmael’s legacy and are at war with Israel. The everlasting war between Islam and Judaism is rooted in the moment when Abraham tried to rush God’s plan.
We will never understand God’s timing until he acts.
It is like when Lazarus was very sick and Mary and Martha went to get Jesus. They knew Jesus could heal him, but Jesus waited two days. In the meantime, I’m sure Mary and Martha were starting to doubt that Jesus was going to help and Lazarus dies.
Then Jesus says to the disciples in John 11:14-15 “Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad that I was not there; it will help you to believe (to trust and rely on Me). However, let us go to him.” So, they went to Mary and Martha and they told Jesus, “If only you’d been here.”
I feel this way a lot in life. A missed job opportunity, broken relationship, financial troubles, and the list goes on. When things go wrong we ask “God, where were you?”, but we know how this story ends. Jesus simply walks over and says, “Lazarus rise” and performs one of the greatest miracles of the Bible.
If Jesus came before Lazarus died, it would have just been another healing. Jesus had done that before, but he was looking to perform a bigger miracle. That is the way it is in our lives, too.
God’s timing is perfect. Just like Gandalf, he shows up right when he needs to. He’s never late. He’s never early. And just like The Doctor he is here to help. We may not understand the complex nature of God’s timing, but if we can manage not to rush God we’ll avoid Ishmaels in our lives. So, be calm, breath deep, and know God is going to show up at just the right moment.