Monday, July 19, 2010

The timing thing

As many others who are/have been faced with infertility, or even those who are in a "waiting" season in their lives will relate, we often hear about "God's timing." Such as "It's all about God's timing," or "everything happens in God's timing," and the favorite, "God's timing is perfect." Even non-religious people use the phrases, minus God.

And while I believe it's a part of the truth, I don't believe it's ALL about timing. I have felt this way long before we got pregnant and feel it even stronger now. It's hard to express in a 30-second conversation or FB comment exchange, so please bear with me as I try to express it here.

Timing is certainly a factor in life experiences, but time as we know it is largely a human convention. The way we keep time in seconds, minutes, hours, etc... is useful, but not necessarily spiritual.  Now, I haven't done an exhaustive, exegetical Biblical study of time, but what I've gathered so far is that God created day and night, set up seasons (which vary from region to region), established feasts and fasts for the nation of Israel, and sketched an outline of things to come in the future. But I don't see an overwhelming fascination with a calendar on God's part.

It would be interesting to study timing as a factor in the well-known infertile couple stories told in the Bible. Though I haven't focused on that element, I am drawn to another factor in the stories which calls to something else in us.

Character development. Or, what kind of people we allow God to shape us into. Timing, to me, suggests a passivity. An "oh well, nothing to do but wait," mentality. But if we are truly trusting in God and seeking His ways, we are not just waiting on His timing. We are active participants in what He is doing now. And for us who are waiting to be parents or waiting for our spouses, what God wants to do now in us is developing our character to be the kind of parents or spouses He wants us to be. Of course we're not going to be perfect parents or spouses when we are blessed with those "others," but if we use the time wisely, we are going to be better equipped than if we did nothing, under the guise of just "waiting."

And what if we never become parents or spouses or whatever it is we hope and pray for? Are we going to squander days full of potential for other purposes because we are more focused on the timing than what God is doing now?

For me, timing is more important in hindsight. It's a piece of the puzzle that adds meaning when viewed with other factors. In foresight, it is largely unknown and not as helpful.

Yes, we need to know that God is in control. Yes, we need to trust Him fully. Yes, there are things we must simply wait for and not try to do in our human strength. But God has given us everything we need (for life and godliness) and we should be good stewards of this (Check out 2 Peter 1: 3-8. I especially like the use of the words "participate" and "possess").

Now it's time for me to turn this over to you. Do you think we'll ever be able to change the phrases from "It's all in God's timing," to "It's all about what God is doing in and with us on a daily basis" or something else more useful? Are there other platitudes that you've heard or used that could use some refining?


  1. But don't you think that character develops over time and is based on what we go through? I think it's still about timing. But maybe we have more control over the "timing" thing than we think. If we focused more on who we are to become instead of what we are to become, we might develop the "character" we are supposed to have, sooner.

  2. I strongly dislike singles books precisely because they band-aid everything with "God's timing". However, I read one by Carolyn McCulley that was good. She said that most of the things that will make you a good wife are the same qualities that will make you a good person. So the refining process is necessary no matter how God answers one's prayers, because it's all about growing, maturing and becoming more like Christ.

    Great insights, Anna.

  3. very good insight. This weekend, I went through my second miscarriage in 8 months and have been struggling with 'timing'. You're right about hindsight. I know that from my experience meeting my husband. I really liked what you said about not wasting the time we have simply 'waiting'(meaning doing nothing else of significance). Rather than 'timing' the Bible talks about 'seasons' in many places, which is what I try to think about as I walk through them, rather than focusing on "the clock". it's not easy though. Very encouraging. :)

  4. my sister sent me the link to your blog as encouragement when you got pregnant(and my husband and i actually teach a form of NFP, so we have something in common!) When people say "God's timing" I guess I HEAR "according to God's plan." Like you said, He created everything, including time and He already knows what happens, so its all according to His plan. Again, not so useful in anything but hindsight, but still. Its comforting knowing that somehow this all will workout.


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