When God’s Timing is Ahead of Our Timing

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We often hear people say, “God’s timing is not our timing” as a means of comfort to verbally soothe a restless heart.  We find ourselves in a difficult situation that is causing us some sort of pain and stress that we know only God can break through. But he doesn’t seem to be moving.

To say that God’s timing is not our timing generally indicates we do not believe that God is moving as fast as we would like. Is it possible—just possible—that we could be the ones who are ahead of God, running faster than natural events?  We are tempered like eager puppies on a walk, pulling too hard on the leash and needing to be restrained by our master’s pace.

To say that God’s timing is not our timing helps us put into perspective God’s divine order.  It helps us make sense of the immediate trials and difficulties while waiting builds our faith muscle.  We learn patience and we learn to wait.

But what happens when God’s timing is ahead of our timing?

At what I felt was the Lord’s leading, I put our home of fifteen years on the market.  Everyone thought it would sell quickly.  Nobody expected the ensuing difficulties and the arduous six-month process ahead.

We had been through some rough stuff as a family but this pushed me to a new limit.  The years of chronic stress were taking their toll.  All the prayers, petitions, and crying out seemed to have no affect.

As part of the move negotiations I’d promised my teenage daughters that they could have a puppy.  One puppy.  They could have it after we sold the house and moved into a rental home.  They had always longed for a puppy.  Somehow the goldfish were never as satisfying.  So that was the deal.  One puppy…after we moved.

With our home still on the market, one day my eldest daughter showed me her math teacher’s Instagram post.  She was trying to find homes for eight 5 ½ week old rescue puppies.   “No,” I said. “We need to sell the house first.”  But I agreed we could just look.

You guessed it—we ended up committing to adopt one of the puppies when they were ready to leave their mom.

What was I thinking?  But I had such a deep peace.

A week later, the girls went back to check on their pup and decided she absolutely needed to have one of her brothers adopted with her.

Lost in thought at my computer, I received a text message with a picture of my daughter and the cutest brown and white pup.  “No.” I replied. “We need to sell the house first.”  Selling the home was about letting go of responsibilities. All I could see was a pup I would be taking care of when she goes off to college in three months.

I agreed to the second pup.

What was I thinking? But I had such a deep peace.

How much longer would it take to sell our home? How much more stress could the girls and I could take? How would we manage two puppies? When would they come home?

What was I thinking? But I had such a deep peace.

A week before we were scheduled to pick up the puppies, my daughter received a phone call telling her that we needed to come get them the next day.  Oh great, I thought. At least that will give us something to do while we have an open house! 

What was I thinking? But I had such a deep peace.

That next morning as we prepared to go bring Theo and Willow into our family, I was responding to an offer on our home.  By 6:30 pm that night we had a signed contract.  No more showings. No more open houses.

Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that the Lord has a perspective and a way of working that we may not understand.

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.

Revelation 3:8 gives us insight into the opportunities God presents to us.

See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.

God gives us choices and opportunities for blessing, but we need to recognize them and be willing to take risks even when it doesn’t seem to make sense—especially then.  Even though the door will always be open, some opportunities expire or have a timeframe in our natural order.  It’s like a video game where the main character is trying to maneuver through the maze by timing a jump onto a moving vehicle or through an open door before it passes by.  Some things in life are like that.  The puppies were an open door that required me to jump before all the pieces were in place.

It’s where the finite and infinite meet.  It’s where the natural and the supernatural collide.  It’s where our timing is behind God’s timing.

To really discern between God’s open door and our own fleshly desires, we need to have an abiding faith in Jesus.  As we remain in Jesus, he remains in us.  As we remain in Jesus, we are fruitful and have an impact.  As we remain in Jesus, our hearts reflect God’s heart and our wishes, prayers, and desires become intermingled with his.

It is what the Apostle John wrote in chapter 15 of his gospel.  As we remain connected to Jesus, who is the vine, we will have and know a deep peace.  It is that connection to the vine that allows us to trust and to jump even when all the pieces are not in place.  I learned a lot about God’s timing from those puppies.

In my stress over selling the house, I could not possibly have imagined the new life and healing those puppies were about to bring into our family. They arrived one week before Father’s Day, and having lost my husband and my girls’ dad just a few years earlier, now the day was no longer something the girls just waited to be over. This year it was about new life and new loves. While it was not in my timing, it was exactly what we needed.

I may not ever understand my own thinking, but now I know what God was thinking.  And I have such a deep peace.


Helen Mitchell is a regular contributor to Faith and Work Collective. Thanks, Helen!

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Helen M. Mitchell is the architect and visionary of the Saddleback@Work ministry where she served on the pastoral staff at Saddleback Church. As CEO and founder of www.strategicmgmtresources, she is a speaker, author, licensed minister and consultant to business leaders and pastors. She is the Director of the Talbot Center for Faith, Work and Economics at Biola University as well as adjunct faculty in Biola’s Crowell School of Business. Her business career started with AT&T becoming a Vice President at the age of 30.

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