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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Divine Delaying

OK, here's a pop quiz (embedded in a hypothetical scenario) to see how obedient you are to God. Ready? OK!

You are a worthy, male priesthood holder. Your best friend lives a couple of cities away. The sister of this best friend (who you also know) sends you a text message and says, "Hey, my brother is really, really sick. In fact, the doctors say he could die at anytime. We'd like YOU to come give him a priesthood blessing. Now. Please."

What do you do?

Well, you go give your friend a blessing, right?

<< buzzer sound >>

OK, end of hypothetical scenario.

Divine Delaying and Lazarus


2,000 years ago, Yeshua was in a similar scenario, as recounted in John 11. He loved Lazarus (Hebrew: Eleazar—"God is my help"), and Lazarus' sisters, Mary and Martha. When he was told that Lazarus was sick, he stayed put in Bethabara for two more days. Afterwards, he told his disciples that they would be visiting Lazarus (who, by this time, was dead).

Yeshua was outside Bethany two days later, at which time Lazarus had been in the grave for four days. He was greeted by Martha, who stated, "Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee." (John 11:21-22).

Clearly, Martha still saw her reality, saying, "Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days" (v 39). But Jesus replied from a greater reality, "Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?"

After the stone in front of the cave was removed, Yeshua cried in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth" (v 43). And he did.

On that day, the news of Jesus' miracle traveled at lighting speed and brightness. From that day, many more Jews believed in Christ, while the chief priests and the Pharisees began plotting his death.

Did Yeshua procrastinate healing Lazarus? Of course not. Did he think such an opportunity was unimportant? Quite the contrary, he saw it as an opportunity "that the Son of God might be glorified thereby" (v 4) and for Martha to "see the glory of God" (v 40).

I personally believe that Yeshua also did it to glorify the Father, and to manifest to the world, for recorded time, that even the most incredible, impossible and inconceivable thing -- raising a dead person to life -- can only be done in and through he who has overcome all things.

(Parenthetically, I know of others who have raised the dead to life, including Tisina Wolfgramm).

Imagine if Christ had gone straightway to Bethany when he first heard of Lazarus' condition. Imagine if Christ arrived at Lazarus' side after he had been dead minutes or hours, instead of four days. What impact would Christ's intervention have had then?

No. Christ delayed because he knew what was coming, and that the sheer magnificence and transcendence of this delayed event would praise and glorify God in new, truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring ways for the rest of recorded history.

Yeshua's delaying was inspired.

Timing is Everything


Fast forward to today.

Those who devoutly and devotedly worship Christ constantly seek, and in fact create, opportunities to serve others -- to be charitable. We want to heal the brokenness of others or perhaps save them from future pain and discomfort. We want to help replace death with life, pain with peace, sadness with joy. And we want to do it now.

But as we learn from John 11, as well as Ecclesiastes 3:1, "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven".

We are also told that "a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment" (Eccl. 8:5).

To me, this means that there are both acceptable times (Isaiah 49:8) and unacceptable times (Genesis 2:17; John 7:6) unto God for man to proceed on a certain course of action.

I believe that there are some things, like repentance, which require no delays.

However, in other cases, in our eagerness to emulate the Master, this sequence chart...

1. You want to be anxiously engaged in a good work.
2. You ask for divine confirmation of it.
God says, "Do it"
3. You ask, "When?"
God tells you when you should do it (Now, Later)
4. You do it (when God said to).
5. Results: are divinely decreed.

...becomes this sequence chart:

1. You want to be anxiously engaged in a good work.
2. You ask for divine confirmation of it.
God says, "Do it"
4. You do it.
5. Results: You later discover that your timing was off, and you have a "mess" to clean up.

Real-Life Stories of Divine Delaying


Story #1: A friend of mine recently found out (the hard way) that when embarking on a divinely confirmed course of action, it's probably a pretty good idea to ask a follow-up question (like, "When do you want me to do it?").

This friend scheduled an event which involved the inclusion of other people. They asked God if this event was divinely approved, and received an affirmative confirmation. With that information in hand, they planned the event, sent out invitations and held the event, which was intended to be spiritually uplifting and instructive.

Unfortunately, the event was not uplifting. In fact, it crashed and burned. It was instructive, however, in that my friend learned a valuable lesson: they never asked regarding the event's timing, nor did they ask for a divinely-directed invitation list. They lamented the fact they needed to send out an apologetic e-mail.

Story #2: Earlier this year, I had wanted my home teaching partner and I to visit Marilynn (not her real name) towards the middle, not the end, of the month. But I kept getting a feeling that I needed to schedule it much, much later. I finally scheduled it for the last day of the month. When we arrived, we found Marilynn in near tears. She was applying for a job (which she had found out about the previous day) online, and was quite intimidated by the online nature of the whole job application process (the fact that her browser was about 10 years old didn't help matters either). She had been struggling with this online job application for about four hours, always thinking she could do it by herself.

I told Marilynn to sit tight, and that within an hour, her application would be submitted. My partner and I raced to my house, grabbed my laptop, returned to Marilynn's and worked on her online job application. We were done in under an hour.

Typically, either my partner or I leave Marilynn's house with a word of prayer. But that night, it was Marilynn who looked up to a loving, compassionate Father and thanked Him for the perfect timing of His -- and our -- help. I remember my eyes kind of getting moist at that point, too, because it was clear to all of us in that living room that the right resources had been brought together, at the right time, for this humble and meek daughter of a Father who loves her very much.

The Lesson of Belshazzar


I am very blessed to know many people wanting to do God's will. They are willing to devote all they are, and all they have -- even their own lives -- to God.

And yet, in their eagerness and zeal to please God and help care for His children, they miss a step or two. Consequently, they end up stepping in something icky. Sometimes they learn their lesson. Sometimes they don't, continuing on, never humbling themselves to seek and understand what they did to get so messy.

But something beneficial has happened -- to me.

I have learned (or, shall I say, it has been seared in me) that God is very much a "measure twice, cut once" kind of being. Belshazzar learned this (the hard way) when God wrote with his own finger the following: "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN"
"This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.
TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.
PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians." (Daniel 5:26-28)
My brother, my sister...

In the coming years, all of us will need to number and weigh a lot of important things, both temporal and spiritual.

Our lives, the lives our families, and perhaps others, may depend on it.

We cannot, we must not, gingerly proceed down a path while being self-assured that our endeavors are built on a foundation of divinely-approved timing. Matters of such importance require more than just self-assurance.

A wise friend once told me to always, always, always give the Holy Ghost a chance to weigh in...ESPECIALLY when other lives are involved.

I like that.

Because sometimes, "Divine Delaying" really is the correct course of action.

7 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I have so much to learn.

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  2. Wow this post was perfect timing for me. Thank you for posting and giving many examples.

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  3. I am grateful for all your posts!! They change how I look at things and provide profound thoughts to ponder and pray about. Thank you for your testimony on how vital the Holy Ghost is in all we do and your consuming love for our Savior!!

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  4. I have never really considered asking God about timing, thank you for enlightening me.

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  5. True it is, "Patience is living life according to the Lord's time line and not our own."

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  6. Just curious why you are referring to Jesus as Yeshua

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    Replies
    1. Because that's his name.

      In actuality, His name in Hebrew and Aramaic (the languages He spoke) was "Yeshua", which means salvation. During His life on earth, He was called "Yeshua", not Jesus. In Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, "Yeshua" was translated as "Iesous" which was probably pronounced "yay-soos" in ancient Greek and is pronounced "yee-soos" in modern Greek. The word "Jesus" then came from an English translation of Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.

      In that same language, Messiah was pronounced "Mashiach". Thus, He was known as "Yeshua Ha Mashiach", or Yeshua, the Messiah.

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