Friday, 21 May 2010

God's timing...what's it all about?

I have had cause recently to consider the issue of God's timing.... This arose because, on this occasion, I had run off towards a goal faster than the church was ready (or able) to follow, but it did get me thinking about this.

In the history of God's people, particularly after Pentecost, (this is a genuine question to which I do not yet know the answer).. is the main problem people moving slower than God is urging or people moving quicker than He is moving? It's an interesting one. My feeling is, looking over the span of 'church history', that the main problem is people not seeing God clearly enough, not following God closely enough and not keeping up with Him when He is moving. Perhaps those who know me would say 'well he would say that wouldn't he..' which may be fair bearing in mind I have just admitted to wanting to move quicker than the church was ready.

When talking about this to other people I often notice an attitude that owes more to the Muslim faith than to Christian truth. There is an almost 'fatalistic' attitude implicit in the 'you've got to wait on God's timing. It is very close to a 'what will be will be' mentality. The often unspoken implication of this attitude in answer to the question 'How do we know when it is God's timing?' is 'when it happens of course!'.

A 'fatalistic' attitude is not really acceptable on pretty much any level but certainly not biblically or theologically, (not unless you are hopelessly determinist). The other 'chestnut' that is usually hauled out at this point, if it's not too tired, is the 'waiting for the Spirit in Jerusalem'. I'm really not convinced that a group of followers waiting, as directed by Jesus, for a specific and unique event is necessarily the pattern for all future Christian activity when it comes to God's timing. We always seem to want to give the answer 'wait' rather than 'catch up'. Anyway, this does not presuppose an answer, although my suspicions are obvious. If one can generalise to this extent, in terms of God's timing, the problem besetting the church has rarely been that of moving too quickly.

I am always interested in Acts 16 v 6 onwards - called 'Paul's vision of the man of Macedonia' in the NIV....but that's not the point. Paul was dashing about trying to get into places to do God's will - but he kept being prevented from doing so (how frustrating). That in itself is a bit of a conundrum. Should Paul have simply waited on God's timing and not moved till he 'had the vision'? Or was he right to rush onwards trying to gain entry to countries hither and thither. Was he rushing ahead of God or was that 'reaching out' part of the process of discerning the timing? Was the discernment in the activity rather than the waiting? Well, that could be one model, but it certainly won't be the only one.........

Well, I know for sure that those who are not steeped in God's Word and open to His Spirit are not particularly in a position to know if they are moving too fast or too slowly, in fact they are hardly in a position to recognize where God is at all. Sadly, I am not a stranger to that state. So, familiarity with God's Word and closeness to His Spirit are good places to begin the timing discussions. I am going to have a look around the Word, read what others have said and experienced and see if I can get to the bottom of the timing issue as it seems getting it wrong has the potential to either push a church beyond where it wants, or is able, to go (which is destructive) or missing out on blessing that God wants to give, which certainly not a course any Christian would knowingly want to pursue. It's always good to get into God's Word with a purpose.