God’s Timing, Not Ours

I put my son to bed last night and, as usual, we prayed together. Well, “kind-of together.” These days, he goes many nights where he won’t say much, but instead will dismissively direct me, “You can pray for both of us, Mommy.” Last night though, he jumped right in and had quite a bit to say. But there was one phrase he uttered toward the end that really choked me up.

As he told Jesus how very much – with emphasis – we love Him, he said, “And Jesus, please take good care of everyone. Even the people who don’t love you, so then they will understand that you are so good and they should love you.”

What a great witness, praying for unbelievers to be so overcome by the goodness of Jesus that they would come to understand that they should love Him!

My heart has been heavy lately with a return to the grieving process. As my favorite author Paul Tripp reminds me, I live in a broken world, surrounded by broken people, and I am one of them. So it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that within our family, born out of two divorces and all the brokenness of our separate histories, we share a decent amount of wreckage that even today can create pain in our lives. In fact, our family has been living out some particularly painful “breaks in relationship” in the last year. As this situation has dragged out and become more entrenched, I have been vacillating between confidence and despair.

I have gone through significant seasons of fairly calm confidence, trusting in God’s plan to work all things – including this thing – for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28), and believing that even though I don’t understand why we are being called to experience such brokenness, that He not only does understand but sees the purpose of it all.

Then I move from what I might call this “more faithful” season, to one that is decidedly “less faithful.” I move into a season of relative despair, where I get tired of praying the same prayers, of living with the same reality, where wounds just don’t seem to be healing and God’s promise to work this for my ultimate good just seems so intangible, so far off in some distant future. It “feels like” He’s taken His hand off of some areas of my life and progress is non-existent. Doubts arise in my heart, and without really knowing it, I can begin to wander away from trusting God in the trials of life that I’m living through. While I may not be questioning His methods, my impatience with what appears to be a languishing situation shows that I may be in danger of questioning his timeline. I catch myself trying to understand His great plan and getting frustrated because I don’t. I can’t.

So my son’s five-year-old prayer was a much-needed smack to the side of my head; it brought me up short. The genuineness in his voice as he spoke of the sheer goodness of Jesus overcoming those who don’t (yet) love Him reminds me that I’ve forgotten who I’m praying to, and why I’m talking to Him in the first place. The only reason I was lying beside my son praying to the God of the Universe is because He Himself, years ago, began drawing me to Himself. The beauty, the irresistible love and gracious mercy of Christ patiently began to call me while I was actively not loving anyone but myself.

In other words, in an instant I was reminded of who I was before I truly knew Christ, and how different I am now. I can look back and see how God used so many little things to slowly turn me toward Him, and I suspect I don’t see the half of it. It took years, though, to really open my eyes to my great need of Him, and it has taken years for me to see any measurable kind of change in my own life. I am sure there were seasons when I saw no change and lived “through the day-to-day” without seeing God’s hand, changing my heart over time.

Taking this long view of God’s work in my own life – far from over, I suspect! – helps rekindle my confidence that God is also at work in the brokenness around me now. I may not see progress or change, but I can be certain that He is working His great plan in the lives of all those around me, and of course in me too.

In His perfect timing.

Lord, thank you for reminding me through the voice of innocence just Who it is I worship, and why I can entrust everyone I love into your hands. Your ways are not our ways. Praise God for that.

Isaiah 55:6-11
Seek the LORD while he may be found;
  call on him while he is near.
Let the wicked forsake their ways
  and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them,
  and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
  neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the LORD.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
  so are my ways higher than your ways
  and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
  come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
  without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
  so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
  It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
  and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

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