The Beauty of Timing
Updated: Jul 19, 2021
One of my mother's pet peeves was my father's timing to the breakfast table. She gave him plenty of warning with, "Bob, are you up?" (which meant coffee was ready). Or, "Bob, breakfast is almost ready" (eggs were going into the pan), and "Bob, breakfast is on the table," (as she buttered the freshly popped-up toast). But he usually arrived just in time for cold eggs and hardened toast. And since we kids were not allowed to eat before he said the blessing, we often shared a cold breakfast. His "timing" was likely based on the false premise that breakfast foods, like soup for lunch and pot roast for dinner, could simmer a while on the stove. The only thing simmering was Mama. He never quite caught on that breakfast was a meal that couldn't wait. He learned that lesson later when he was on his own and tried to cook breakfast from the comfort of his Lazy Boy. A few burned pans and smoke alarmed mornings later, he realized breakfast was a cook-and-serve-immediately meal. Mama was probably rolling her eyes if that is allowed in heaven. It's funny now. Stories mellow -- over time.
I've given a lot of thought to timing lately. Seventy got here a lot quicker than expected, and the sum total of checked-off bucket list items is pretty much what it was at thirty. That will give one pause. Yet, recently a word of the Lord came through a trusted prophetic vessel who said, "This is your time!" What? Now? If only I had known it would be NOW, maybe I wouldn't have stressed so much -- every day of my life -- to "see" progress in the things God had spoken to me decades before when life became about a visitation of the Lord when I was twenty-seven.
It Happened One July night
In a country field on the outskirts of a small South Carolina town, a fresh voice of God had given birth to a fledgling church plant. I caught a whiff of it and moved my home from Greenville to Anderson to experience this wave of glory. Newly baptized in the Holy Spirit, I quickly gave myself over to the church, becoming one of its faithful, fired-up volunteers. One of my duties was to wake up the church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. Lights, air/heat, tidying up -- whatever was needed to make welcome the incoming saints.
Routinely, on Wednesday nights I left my community college job in Clemson and picked up a meal on my way to the church. On one such evening, I got stuck in the drive-thru behind a slow-moving car. Irritated, I yanked the steering wheel to pull around it. That's when I noticed it was a car full of teenaged boys, heads out of the windows, shouting taunts and obscenities at some poor victim trapped in their sites. Then I saw her. A young girl, best guess fifteen, beautiful long, strawberry-blonde hair, wearing short-shorts and about sixty packed on pounds of extra weight. She tightly gripped a rumpled brown sack of what was most likely a hamburger and fries. It was locked in her clenched fist like a lifeline. Desperately she tried to walk away from her cruel predators and their merciless name-calling. Head down, long beautiful hair all but hiding her surely tear-streaked face.
In a blood-boiling volcanic adrenaline eruption, my first instinct was to reach through the open car windows, grab and throttle each gangly adolescent and cast them one by one into the outermost darkness where there would be weeping and gnashing of teeth! But I sat there frozen. I couldn't move. I realized I had no moral authority to come to her defense because I had the same problem. And worse. My intervention would have only caused her more ridicule. So, I pulled away and left her there to face her tormentors alone. Ashamed. Helpless. Tortured. Abandoned.
A Hannah Prayer
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly.
Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard (I Samuel 1:1,3).
I drove home in a blind tempest of tears, my church duties uncharacteristically abandoned and forgotten. Flinging myself across the bed, I wept and wailed out loud, like Hannah, "in anguish . . . weeping bitterly," Hours later, tears spent and all the "why, God?" questions asked, I lay there in the dark. Empty. Dishrag limp. " . . . lips moving," but a "voice" that could "not" be "heard."
What happened next would change the course of my life. Gentle, comforting sounds played over me like theme music on the movie screen of my mind. It was sweet and soft, a sovereign visitation of the Holy Spirit of God. I felt as surrounded and encompassed by the Presence of God as a child in the womb. The love songs He sang over me went straight to my soul. And for the next few hours, I experienced the most beautiful moments I have ever spent in time. Gently, He showed me scripture with a fresh revelation of how on the cross Jesus broke the chains of every earth-cursed condition. That included genetic curses, like this weight thing; my problem, and that of the red-haired girl. This Divine Visitor, the Holy Spirit, expounded revelation to me about a book called, Slave Trade: Ransomed Beauty, Rescued Bride. But I couldn't write it then. It wasn't time.
"How long must I call for help . . . I will look to see what He will say to me and what answer I am to give to this complaint" (Habakkuk 1:1a; 2:1a).
Wisdom can't be rushed. It is hard-earned. It takes time and every experience has to fit into its own space. It took the times I walked on water and the times I sank into the sea. The words weren't there forty years ago. But like scrambled eggs that must be precisely timed, that time is now. I covet your prayers as I write the vision, that I may "make it plain," so that the beautiful ransomed betrothed Bride of Christ may read it and "run with it" (Hab. 2:2-3).
Then the Lord replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay (Habakkuk 2:2-3).