February 7, 2018 • Life for Leaders
With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Do you ever find God’s timing to be perplexing, even frustrating? I confess that I do, often. I know patience is a virtue. And I know I should trust God even when waiting upon him. And I know that those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength (Isaiah 40:31). And I know that God is faithful, gracious, and merciful beyond all measure. I know these things. But I still find myself unsettled by God’s timing. I wonder why the Lord tarries when my prayers need an urgent response. I wonder why God puts up with so much injustice in this world. I wonder when God will make all things right so that he might receive the glory he deserves.
Ephesians 1:8-10 doesn’t provide direct answers for my wonderings. But it does remind me of a fundamental truth that I need to remember today… and every day. According to our text, God’s will is going to be “put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment” (1:10). A more literal translation might be: “[God has] a plan for the fullness of the times” (1:10). The expression, “the fullness of the times” refers to a time in the future when God will choose to execute his plan. This will happen at exactly the right time, at the time God knows to be the best. The CEB captures the sense of the Greek by saying, “This is what God planned for the climax of all times.” All that God has been doing in history will culminate in his action “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (1:10).
As we consider God’s future action in “the fullness of the times,” we are reminded that the Lord is sovereign, not only over the physical world, nor only over his creatures, but over time itself. God, who is not bound by time, transcends all of time, all of history. Thus, God can choose to act according to his timetable, which is always the best.
Of course, as I suggested in the first paragraph, God’s timing is not necessarily our own. Sometimes God seems inexcusably slow. Sometimes God surprises us with the swiftness of his grace. Sometimes God’s timing is just plain mysterious. Yet, no matter how we might feel about God’s timing, it is always right, always wise, always gracious.
Now, these words may be hard for you to read, especially if you’re in the midst of a painful process of chemotheraphy, or if one of your children has wandered away from the Lord, or if you hate your job, or if your neighbors are victims of racism, or if you ache for those in the world who are dying of starvation. Sometimes it is terribly hard to feel confident about God’s timing. Yet, Ephesians reassures us that God is Lord over time, and that he will act when it is best. In the meanwhile, his Spirit comforts us. His truth instructs us. And his people stand with us as we wait together.
Something to Think About:
Have there been occasions in your life when you have questioned God’s timing?
In retrospect, have you been able to see the wisdom of God’s timing?
What helps you to trust that God’s timing is best?
Something to Do:
Identify some area of your life, some need or opportunity, in which it is hard for you to trust God’s timing. Then, offer this to the Lord, asking for the gift of patience as you wait upon him.
Gracious God, you order all things. You are sovereign even over time itself. You sent Christ at just the right time to fulfill your gracious purposes for creation. Thank you for your wisdom and grace.
As you know, Lord, sometimes I struggle with your timing. Often, you seem to move so slowly. I can easily become frustrated, and even doubt you. Help me to be reassured that you are working all things together for good in your time and in your way. Help me to trust you more, to seek you more, and to live each day in the fullness of your time for me. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God’s Timing is Everything
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.