It’s a Timing Thing

Maybe it’s because God is timeless, so the restrictions of days and months and years don’t really apply to Him, but I’ve always felt like God can be slow in His answers. Really slow. Like, I asked Him a question four months ago and He just now decided to grace me with an answer.

I’m not complaining, because the answer was actually quite timely and maybe I didn’t need to know four months ago. Maybe I only needed the answer when it finally came to me. Maybe God has better timing than I ever gave Him credit for. And maybe He’s sitting up there in heaven saying, “You mean you only figured that out just now?” (Because, as it turns out, God is not the only slow one in this relationship.)

I find it amazing that, while God is not bound by time, timing is such an important part of His work in our lives. God doesn’t always give answers on the day we ask questions because we may not need the answers until a little more time has passed—be it four days, four months, or four years.

And it’s like I’ll never learn that God has the answers all wrapped up for me as He awaits the perfect timing to hand me the gift of knowing. It’s like I’ll never be content to wait for His timing even though I’ve learned His timing is always perfect.

Because sometimes I just want an answer.

Whether or not I truly need the answer in that moment, I’d prefer not to endure four months of silence. And wouldn’t it make sense for me to simply store the answer in the back of my mind until the day I really need it? Why am I left with the questions and never the answers?

I think sometimes God must laugh at my ignorance, and not in a mocking way. Not in a way that makes Him roll His eyes and sigh in frustration because I still don’t understand. No, I think God must look at me the way I look at my preschoolers when they try to explain the mysteries of life. When they come up with a story that is so outrageous to those who know the truth, yet makes perfect sense in the naive logic of their minds. Yes, I think God smiles at me like I smile at them, knowing that one day I’ll know the truth and my childish imaginings will seem so silly even to me.

And though I know this, I keep coming up with my own explanations to questions that are yet to be answered.

I forget that it’s a timing thing.

I forget that the answers are on a need-to-know basis and I do not yet need to know.

And sometimes I get discouraged. And sometimes I forget…

God’s timing is so much better than mine. God’s timing is, in fact, perfect.

And maybe it’s okay that my questions remain unanswered for now, because the answers will be there when I need them most.

It's a Timing Thing

Some Questions Are Better Left Unanswered

It seems like every time I turn around, someone within my online community has been debating the goodness of God. Is He good or is He not? Does God really love the world, or is He spiteful and vindictive? Because how could a God who claims to be Love allow so many things to go wrong? Why does He stand back as we endure suffering and pain?

I nearly lost my family on Easter Sunday. They were driving home from my grandma’s house when a car came flying across the interstate and nearly crushed the family minivan. Except, somehow, miraculously, it didn’t. And my family is alive. You can bet I was praising Jesus so hard I was weeping when I heard that news.

Last week, my young friend Mackenzie lost her dad to cancer. How can it be that a mere six weeks after I praise Jesus for sparing my father, Mackenzie loses hers? Is it fair? Is it just? Can I call that the work of a loving God? And if I can, would I still be saying the same thing if I had lost half of my family in a horrific car accident and Mackenzie’s dad was miraculously healed of cancer? Would I still believe in a God who loves if everything had been ripped away from me?

I’d like to say I would. In fact, I honestly believe that I could. I honestly feel that, under all the hurt and anger and confusion, I would still hear that still, small voice saying, “Rebekah, my child, I love you.” And I’m 98% convinced that I would believe it. Because I’ve believed it for twenty-one years.

Because I have lost people I love before. And yes, it was hard (and still is hard some days). Yes, I was angry and asked questions that haven’t fully been answered up to ten years later.

But you know what I’ve realized in the midst of the pain? Sometimes Love does things that don’t make sense to the beloved. Sometimes bad things happen so better things can come. Sometimes the losses we experience make room in our hearts for greater joys. And beauty really does come from ashes… eventually.

In case you were wondering, these aren’t the words I would tell Mackenzie, because they aren’t the kind of words that heal so fresh a wound. Because, deep down in her heart of hearts, Mackenzie knows what I know. She knows that God loves her. She knows that everything happens for a reason. But right now, those answers aren’t what she needs to hear.

Maybe the reason that God elects to leave so many questions unanswered is because He knows that what our hearts truly seek isn’t answers after all.

God’s silence in the times that we are hurting isn’t a sign of His indifference; it’s His way of standing alongside us in the midst of a myriad of empty platitudes. Maybe He doesn’t offer answers because He knows what we really desire is to be understood in a world that can only try at understanding. Maybe He holds back the words because He knows that what we truly need is simply to be held amidst the awkward shoulder pats and sympathetic smiles of the people who don’t know how to handle our grief.

Knowing the answers doesn’t take the pain away. It won’t give our loved ones back or miraculously heal our broken hearts. But knowing that God is there to carry us through when we don’t have the strength to carry ourselves… Well, sometimes that’s the only thing that drags me out of bed in the mornings.

So, for now, I’m content to leave my questions unanswered and keep my God close by. Because I choose to believe that Jesus loves me… even when He doesn’t say it out loud.

The End of the Story

He left a steady job, sold his house, and said goodbye to the woman he planned to marry, all because God called him to some country he knew nothing about. In obedience, he pursued this calling halfway across the world trusting, but never truly knowing, that God had something glorious in store.

He was in the country a whole two weeks before the government sent him home. He was angry, confused, and more than a little bitter. Why? he wondered. God, why did You send me here? Why did You make me sacrifice so much for nothing?

But his sacrifice was not for nothing. Because even as he struggled to find answers, someone else was searching too. Someone else was reading the Bible he left her. Someone else was finding herself found in the One True God. But our friend didn’t know this – almost never knew this. In fact, he could have spent the rest of his life thinking his sacrifice was in vain. Except this new believer tracked him down to thank him. She came to his house to tell him the story of how God spoke to her through His Holy Book and how she was called to minister to her people – something this man had not been allowed to do.

Often, our sacrifices seem to be in vain because we don’t know how the story ends. We don’t know the impact of our love and prayers. We don’t know if the words we’ve spoken bounced off a hardened heart or seeped into fertile soil. We just don’t know. And so we get frustrated. Disappointed. Angry, even. We look to the heavens and ask, “Why? God, why did You send me here? Why did You make me sacrifice so much for nothing?” When all along, our sacrifice is making a bigger impact than we know.

So be encouraged, my friend. Your questions are not the end of the story. Something much greater is at work. And while you may not find your answers this side of eternity, one day you’ll know how the story ends. Don’t give up just because the call may not make sense in this moment. God could be using you to bring hope, change lives, and touch nations.

You just never know…

What You Became

Today is a day that we celebrate sacrifice – the ultimate sacrifice where the Son of God entered the world and surrendered His life to restore us to Himself. In honor of this hauntingly beautiful day, I’ve composed the following letter to the God who saves:

How did You do it? How did You endure the pain of crucifixion? How did You suffer through the taunting and torture and love them anyway? How did You find it in Your heart to forgive those who meant only harm? What did You see deep in their souls that would cause You to love them? To love me?

How Your heart must have grieved when Your people screamed the words, “We have no king but Caesar!” Peter was not the only one who denied You that day. The very people You fashioned with Your hands cried out for Your destruction on that day… and You knew that they would. When You elected to come to earth, You foresaw that day. How did You feel, knowing that the creation You delight in found no delight in You?

Even as You were dying, You whispered words that would free us. “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” And by the time we realized what it was that we did, it was too late. Tho soldier only fell to his knees when the earth and sky trembled – when the Father roared in pain. The earth shuddered with sobs, but the human heart remained unmoved on the day Your words came true. The rocks did cry out when no one else dared to speak Your Name.

And for three days, the world was a dark and lonely place.

Then You came again.

To a people most undeserving, You lavished extravagant love.

I stand in awe of who You are and what You became for me.

Discovering Me

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is a new note bouncing around facebook that is either 25, 30, or 50 random facts about the author, depending on who’s writing it. The first one I saw had 50 facts, and I got a little nervous when I read it. 50 facts? Do I even know 50 random facts about myself? It was probably a silly question. Of course I know 50 things about myself. But do I want to dig deep into the recesses of my heart and mind to retrieve them? Probably not.

But I did retrieve them. All 50 of them. Even though I only posted 25 on facebook. As much as I hate doing it, I figured it would probably be a good exercise. It was time to learn the things that I had been hiding from myself. And I did learn. I really had to think about these 50 things. I had to decide what was important enough to earn a place on this exclusive list. Even though my brain rebels against all things analytical, it’s good for me to study my life from time to time.

The answers themselves ask a question of their own. How do I love dancing in the rain when I don’t like being in water? Why do I devour fiction the way that I do? How have I managed to convince most of the world that I’m an extrovert? Why do I gravitate toward certain colors of clothing? These are things a girl should know about herself. And yet I don’t know these things. I don’t know because I never allow myself time to think of them. But knowing what I’m like and why I’m that way helps me understand myself better. Somehow my future ties in with these 50 past and present facts. Somehow these facts have shaped me. And will continue to do so.

Do you know what shapes your life? Do you know what drives you? I challenge you to take a day (or two, like I did) and ask yourself which 50 facts about you are “list-worthy.” Get to know the person God created you to be. Figure out how your past is affecting your future. Then invite God to shape and mold these 50 things that are very much a part of who you are and who you have yet to become.