At the Appointed Time

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The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? [NASB] At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” 15 But Sarah denied it, saying, “I did not laugh,” for she was afraid. He said, “No, but you did laugh.” – Genesis 18:13-15

Cone Flowers | Missouri Botanical Gardens | July 2021

My son and his soon-to-be wife climbed into the car, ready for a road trip from Seward, Nebraska to Arlington, Texas. Two friends were along for the ride. As soon as they got in the car and buckled up, one of their friends asked, “Are we there yet?” Matt’s answer: “Yes. Now get out!” Clever? No doubt. Kind? Maybe not. Telling? You tell me. 

I’ve been accused of being impatient and impulsive. I want to see things happen. I want to get things done. Grass does not often grow under my feet. That can be a strength and a weakness. It’s true: Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. But sometimes heroes must rush into the burning building. Rescue the threatened. Take the hill. Wisdom lies in knowing when to wait and when to take charge. When to let it be and when to put the pedal to the metal. 

It’s been said that God is seldom in a hurry and never late. His timing is perfect. God lives outside of time. Hence the joke:

Hey God! I’ve been reading the Bible and it says that with you a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years are as a day. 

“Yes,” God says. “And?”

“Well I was thinking, a million dollars would be like a dollar to you, right?”


“So could I have a million dollars?”

“Sure. Just wait a minute.” [Rim shot here!]

More seriously, the timing of God is a mystery beyond finding out. How is it possible that an angel would be dispatched to the aid of Daniel but would be detained for 14 days before he was able to get to him? Why is there need for battles between angels, demons, powers and principalities in the heavenly realm? Why did Abraham and Sarah have to wait for a whole year longer before they would bear a son? Isn’t God able to do the most marvelous things imaginable? 

Two answers spring to mind immediately. First of all, God lives outside of time, but we do not. He may be able to see the whole sweep of history in one view. But we must live it out minute by minute, day by day. And, two, and most importantly: God is patient with us, wanting us to come to repentance. He’s “slow” in our estimation because sometimes we are just too stubborn. 

Speculation alert: Might Abraham and Sarah not have conceived a child because they hadn’t tried? Was it too marvelous for them to imagine? Was it beyond imagination and therefore not worth even trying to live into that possibility? 

The timing of God is an elegant and marvelous thing. He is seldom in a hurry. Never late. Never early either. And while we wait for his promises to become reality we must do all we can to live into them, and act on those things over which we do have control…all the while imagining how wonderful it will be to experience the fullness of their fulfillment.

And experience them we will. For that is God’s promise to us, secured in his Son, Jesus Christ, to be fully and completely realized at the end of all time. 


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