Patience, timing often needed in our lives

Published 10:26 am Monday, October 7, 2013

by Brandon Robbins

Several thousand years ago, there lived a people called the Hebrews. The Hebrews were slaves in Egypt for 400 years. For 400 years, they cried out to God to free them. And after 400 years, God answered their prayers.

God sent a man named Moses to set the people free. But his task wasn’t easy, for standing in his way was Pharaoh, the king of Egypt.

At first, Moses simply tried talking to Pharaoh, telling him that he had been sent by God to free the Hebrews. Moses displayed for Pharaoh the power God had given him to do miraculous things. But Pharaoh was unmoved, for he had magicians of his own who could perform similar acts of amazement.

Eventually, God told Moses to convince Pharaoh with plagues. Moses went to Pharaoh and said, “The Lord says, ‘Let my people go so they may worship me!’” When Pharaoh didn’t respond, Moses turned all of the water in the region into blood. Pharaoh was shocked. Angry. But not convinced.

For weeks, maybe even months, Moses returned to Pharaoh, each time saying, “The Lord says, ‘Let my people go so they may worship me!’” Each time he would send forth a different plague. Frogs, gnats, darkness, and a host of other plagues covered the land. But no matter what Moses did, it seemed as if the timing was not right. Moses and his people were going to have to wait even longer for Pharaoh’s mind to change.

Finally, after nine failed plagues, a tenth and final plague struck a fatal blow. God sent forth a plague that wiped out the first-born sons of every family, excepting those whose doorposts were marked with the blood of the lamb. Pharaoh’s house did not have such a mark.

After losing his eldest son, Pharaoh’s response to Moses quickly changed. This time, when Moses demanded that the Hebrews be set free, Pharaoh obliged.

Now of course this story raises questions about how God could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of young men and boys. And that is a subject that deserves true attention and conversation. But for the time being, I’d like to focus on another facet of the story: patience and timing.

It’s amazing, the level of patience that Moses was willing to exhibit while waiting for Pharaoh’s mind to change. No matter how many times he approached Pharaoh, it always seemed as if the timing was off.

Have you ever had an experience like that in your life?

When I first arrived at Courtland United Methodist Church, just over two years ago, one of the earliest requests I got was that of starting a youth group. However, as our Christian Education team came together, we quickly realized that the timing simply wasn’t right for this.

We knew that our first priority needed to be children, so we began there. We trusted that God would show us the right time for a youth group. So for the next year, we simply decided to wait, be patient, and pray.

A year later, we came back to the issue of starting a youth group. But again, the timing was off. We didn’t have enough leaders and resources to do a great job. So again, we decided to wait, be patient, and pray….

Finally this year, it seemed as if everything came together. Our children’s Sunday School program had grown so strong, and so many of the kids were aging out, we soon realized that there was an imperative need for a youth group. And just as this need arose, a group of women stepped forth, offering to lead this new group of 5th through 8th graders. In fact, this new group is kicking off this Sunday at 11 a.m. during the worship service.

Of course, the journey is not over for us. We still have to find a way to reach youth beyond 8th grade. But we now have not only the faith, but also the experience to show us the value of waiting for the right time to arrive.

Have you had things in your life that you tried, but the timing didn’t seem to be right? Taking a much-needed vacation from work? Starting a family? Switching jobs? Going to church?

Sometimes we desire to do these things, but when obstacles get in the way, or the timing seems off, we often push them aside altogether. For instance, we may try going to church, knowing that God has something waiting there that we desperately need in our lives. But maybe we don’t feel entirely comfortable the first time we go. Or, perhaps outside situations prevent us from being able to attend on our first attempt. Our primary inclination is to say, “I guess it’s just not meant to be.”

But what if it’s really just not meant to be NOW? What if the timing is just not right NOW?

May you see the things in your life that you have needed to do, but have given up on in the past. May you consider that perhaps the timing wasn’t right then, but could be now. And may you trust that just as God was faithful to Moses and the Hebrew people, God will be faithful to you too — even if it takes a while.

BRANDON ROBBINS is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or