June 2, 2015

God’s Timing


He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end” (Eccl. 3:11).

Now from Genesis 1:1-5: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night.’ And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”

The Discipline of Waiting

Our Christian faith calls us to live with godly attitudes and habits. And Jesus has given us certain spiritual habits to help us grow in godliness. The spiritual habit at the heart of most growth is the experience of waiting.

I despise waiting. I may be one of the most impatient people in the world. I get mad if the grocery store checkout line is too long, if the person in front of us can’t get that debit or credit card swiped swiftly enough. Waiting on something as simple as a cashier’s transaction bothers me.

In our essence, many of us are control freaks. The longer God makes us wait, the more we feel as if we’re not in control. It’s as if God is trying to impress upon our minds, “I make you wait so you’ll learn how little control you have, and how much control I have.”

God made all things beautiful. He also set eternity in our hearts. All of us, at some deep level within us, have a longing to grasp eternity.

God reminds us, “I put that longing inside you so you’ll never be content to be bound by time.” So under inspiration the author of Genesis begins in a marvelous way: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

You may be thinking, I know that in six days God created the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that in them is. I know He rested on the seventh day.

All of us, at some deep level within us, have this longing to grasp eternity.

But why did God take six days? God didn’t need six days to do it! God could easily have thought about it, and based on His thought, it would have all been! Everything—trees, mountains, rivers, and lakes: all of it would have been. God chose to take six days to teach us something about Himself.

Good architects strive for at least three goals when they set out to design something. They strive to design something durable, something useful, and something beautiful. But in order for architects to reach those goals, they must begin with a plan; we call such plans “blueprints.” Before God arrived at the beginning, He had blueprints for the beginning. This was no haphazard activity; God had a blueprint.

Some of us are waiting for God to begin something in our lives. He’s going to start the relationship. He’s going to give us the new job. He’s going to begin whatever we’re waiting for. But while we’re waiting, let God plan! He’s trying to create something durable, something useful, something beautiful.

Why It Took So Long

Genesis 1:1 is only a brief summary. On the first day God said, “Let there be light.” How long did it take for light to appear? Almost immediately, at His very word, light appears everywhere. In my imagination I ask, “OK, what’s next?”

But God says, “No, that’s it.”

You mean the only thing You’re doing on the first day is saying “Let there be light”? It might have taken a second.

God, You could have at least made a start on the second day’s work. God, You’re not making the best use of time! Light is good, but I want more! Don’t stop with light! Do something else!

But He says, “No.”

Why, God, why?

“Because light was for the first day. That was all I had planned. I stepped back and said, ‘This is good.’ ”

Such patience bothers me: The very thing I critique about Genesis 1 troubles me in my own life. I get disturbed when God doesn’t make good use of my time. God, I have only four years to be in school. Don’t let me get to graduation and have somebody say, ‘Well, you didn’t take this class, and now you have to wait,’ because, God, I don’t have long to live!

But He says, “Wait a minute-—or more! Can you by worrying add one second to your life, or one cubit to your height? You should seek My kingdom!”

If there is any faith community that ought to know about waiting, it’s ours [the African-American community]! We learned to wait for what was rightfully ours for years. Our songs communicated the ability to endure patiently. God has given us the ability to wait.

But now we’ve lost our ability to wait patiently. We have become so impatient that some of us actually think that God is off schedule!

God must be thinking, Are you serious? You actually think I’m off schedule in your life? Some of you are off schedule with Me!

I’ve been telling you to for eight months to leave that relationship. But you keep saying, ‘He’s so beautiful, God; I just love him.’ You keep complaining to Me, but sometimes I’m waiting on you!

Yet we often respond, God, You’re not being efficient with my time! I’ve been trying to have a child. I’ve been trying to get a promotion. I’ve been trying to write a book. God, what are You waiting for?

And sometimes God is simply telling us, “I want to teach you, My son, My daughter. I’m not just the God of product; I’m also the God of process.”

We love product, right? We want product, the end result. The process is painful, long, and arduous. The process makes us cry and sweat. The process makes us pray!

“Even before I created humanity, I, God, chose to order My creation according to a process to let you know that I’m not just the God of product, I’m also the God of process.

“I’m a God who knows how to take it one day at a time. When I finish the first day, I step back and say, ‘It’s good.’ Then I go to the second day, and I create the sky. I say, ‘That’s good.’ And on the third day I gather the land and seas together.”28 1 4 4

So on the first three days all God did was form stuff. But during the second three days He filled what He formed. Don’t ask God to fill you if He hasn’t formed you.

“God, I’m available to You.”

“Are you really available? You want Me to fill you, but I haven’t yet formed you. I want to create within you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you; then I will fill you.”

Think about it: That which God made on the first day He filled on the fourth day. That which He made on the second day He filled on the fifth day. That which He made on the third day He filled on the sixth day. He took His time because He was trying to create space to put in us what He planned for us.

God seems to be saying, “You have to wait! I’m just on the second day. But if you stick with Me in the process, I’m going to fill you. There’s a process that leads to this product, and if you rush it, you may not receive that which is durable, that which is useful, that which is beautiful.”

God’s Masterpiece

God had said, “Let there be light.” Then: “I’m going to create an expanse in the sky; let the waters above go and the waters below be.” Then He said, “I want the land to be separate from the seas.” On the fourth day He said, “Here are the sun, moon, and stars.” On the fifth day He says, “I want sea creatures, and I want air creatures.”

On the sixth day He says, “I want land creatures.” He’s about to create us.

God is telling us, “Remember where I found you. I went down low, and I gathered some dust together. That’s where I found you.”

So let’s get an aerial view as God creates Adam. I see God sprinkling a bit of dust for His foundation. Then He begins to smooth things out, saying, “OK, according to Our blueprint, We want him to be able to see.” So out of dust God makes two small, dusty balls. He drops them—plop, plop—into eye sockets. Then He takes His thumb, grabs some of that dust, and with His two fingers forms a nose right here on the face. He gave me a big one. With others He just put a little point there.

When we think dust, we think of skin. But our hearts are made of dust! Our bones, dust. Sinews, dust. Blood, dust! No wonder the psalmist could say, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139:14).

When we’re awake and when we’re asleep God guides blood through the right atrium into the right ventricle. The blood drops off carbon dioxide, picks up oxygen, and heads back into the body involuntarily! All this is dust!

Now God picks up this lifeless being, limp in God’s arms. Adam doesn’t have life in him, but he’s in God’s hands. God looks at Adam’s eyes, at his mouth, at all the teeth He put in his mouth. He looks at his kneecaps. He sees his lungs and his stomach.

Adam looks human, but he’s not alive. You know how it is when you wake up from a good sleep; it takes a while for your vision to get right. The first face Adam sees is the face of his Maker. Adam says, “You look like me.”

And God says, “No, you look like Me.”

“Did you start with me?”

“No, Adam, I didn’t start with you. I’ve been up to this for six days because (and here it is) I already had many things completed before you were even aware of My presence. Before I bring the blessing, I’ve already completed things that you couldn’t even imagine!”

God didn’t create us first, because we would think we were in control.

God said, “We’re going to create humans last. We’re going to take care of everything needed so that by the time Adam opens his eyes, I can walk him through what I did day by day.

“So on the first day, Adam, this is light. Look up there. I did that on the second day. On the third day, this is what I did.”

Adam says, “God, You did all this for me?”

“I did it for you.”

“Now what are we going to do?”

“I’m glad you asked.”

When we trust God’s process on the way to the product He has for us, that’s when we can truly have a Sabbath rest! They rested on the seventh day, after Adam and Eve had reviewed the six days of Creation and could say with the redeemed, “Just and true are Your ways” (Rev. 15:3, NKJV).*

Adam says, “What does it mean that You did all this without me?”

It means that from the beginning God wanted us to live by faith.If creation wasn’t up to us, neither was redemption; it’s the same message from Genesis to Revelation. God wanted us to rest on the Sabbath on the merits of all He had already done. That’s why we rest! We look back and say, “Look what He did!”

God is in control! He only asks that we wake up, review His beauty, and allow Him to take His time in our lives.

*Texts credited to NKJV are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Richard D. Martin is an associate pastor at the Emmanuel/Brinklow Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ashton, Maryland. This is abridged from a sermon he preached on February 28, 2015. If you hear an example of exceptional preaching, write to [email protected] and put “Sermon” in the subject line, along with the details (who, when, where, etc.).