God’s Timing

But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hands;
    deliver me from the hands of my enemies,
    from those who pursue me.

  • Psalm 31:14-15

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

  • Matthew 2:9-12

“Her husband had been pursuing a robbery suspect. There had been gunfire. David was hit. Shot at point-blank range.
“Stunned, Terry thought how glad she was that she had not waited until Christmas to give her husband his present. How grateful she was that the shopkeeper had been willing to let her pay for it later. Otherwise, Dave would have surely died. Instead, he was now in the hospital—not with a gunshot wound, but with only a bad bruise.
“You see, David was wearing the gift of life Terry could not wait to give—his brand—new bulletproof vest. There are times that the timing of something is as remarkable as the thing itself. Sometimes more so.
“Like a CPA friend of mine who, through a computer mix-up, was bumped off a flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas one Friday evening several years ago. His irritation changed to gratitude when he heard the next morning that the original flight he would have taken had crashed, killing everyone aboard.
“Spooky? Weird? Coincidence? Luck?
“Well, that’s one way to view it. Lots of folks do. They’re the same ones who suggest that the mind-boggling planetary motion swirling around us in perfect precision just sorta wound up there on its own. And that things like birth and death, promotions and demotions, early arrivals and late departures, interruptions and delays are little more than the shallow flutter of chance.
“I’m persuaded otherwise. Within the movement of events is the Designer, who plans and arranges the times and the seasons, including the minutest detail of life. You question that? Many do.
“But unless I miss my guess, David and Terry Shafer don’t. Nor does the CPA in Dallas. It’s funny …  people who survive a calamity don’t have much struggle with sovereignty.

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Touch (Devotion for week 37, Tuesday)

The first half of Rev. Swindoll’s devotion talks about how the woman, Terry, did not have the money for this Christmas present and she asked for a lay-away plan, but the shop keeper gave it to her and trusted that she would pay it off.  She promised a little money each week.

A few years ago, our former pastor was still in the pulpit, and I talked to him on the way out about something that happened the day before.  I prayed and then it happened, within a couple of hours.  And what happened was totally out of my control.  Funny, I have no remembrance of what it was.

The pastor chuckled and said that we might not place that into the miracle category.  Nothing supernatural, other than timing, occurred.  Let’s write it off as a GMC.

I was confused.

He laughed and added, “God Made Coincidence.”

I used the term a couple of years later with him and he was confused, thinking I had come up with the phrase.  When I told him that I got it from him, we both had a good laugh.

But when you consider that something on the far side of the world happened, and that led to other things happening, and on down the line until the right thing happened at the right time.

Like Rev. Swindoll, I had a friend, a salesman for the company, who was scheduled for a flight back to Pittsburgh, PA.  The potential customer on the south side of Chicago, IL, indicated that they were interested, but they had questions.  He checked his watch, but he had to answer their questions to get the sale.  When he was done, he rushed to the airport.  He might still make his flight, but then due to the later start from the steel mill to the airport, O’Hare, he hit shift change.  Even so, he barely missed his flight.  While having dinner at the airport, he called his wife and told her he would be on a later flight.  When he got home that night, his wife told him that his originally scheduled flight had crashed.  All 132 people were killed in the crash.

I have written about my wife and I meeting when my land lady at the apartment complex played match maker, but how did we get there?  She was born in Indonesia, after traveling to the Netherlands and back to Indonesia, they might have lived there their entire lives if it were not for the revolution there.  Then the remnants of the caste system in the Netherlands prevented my future father-in-law from a good job.  He took his family to the USA, eventually to El Paso, TX, but they had moved for a better job to Port Arthur, TX.  My future wife could not afford college, so she joined the Air Force.  She got out and started college on the G.I. Bill.  In the meantime, I had incurred a military commitment, joining Army ROTC and them offering me a scholarship.  I graduated at the top of my class in chemical engineering, offered the highest salary of anyone in engineering graduating that year.  But while the others had 2-3 job offers to choose between, I had one.  None of the big companies wanted to take a chance on someone who would have to leave for military service once I had completed my graduate studies, but a small company in Port Neches, TX gave me a great offer, but my only offer, and Lamar University was nearby, the same school where my future wife was taking nursing classes.

If the Vietnam War had not been going on, I would have probably not accepted the ROTC scholarship offer.  I would not have had that commitment and I might not have ended up in the Golden Triangle of Texas, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange, with Port Neches within that triangle.  Without the Indonesian revolution, my wife may have never left Indonesia.  And looking for a better job brought her family to the Golden Triangle of Texas.

It was not miraculous, but it was a combination of so many God Made Coincidences that I cannot ignore God’s hand in it.

Whether it is the avoidance of a bad situation or the glorious circumstance of a Joyful situation, God has His hand in it.

The magi were guided to Bethlehem by a star (or planet) that was set in motion when time began, thousands of years before a baby was born to a virgin mother in a town far from where they had lived in Nazareth.  If it were not for the census, they would not have been in the right place.  But God knew from the dawn of time, where that star had to be at that moment.

God Made the heavens and the earth and He called His creation, “Very Good.”  And in so doing, He even planned for the time when mankind would mess things up.  Happened by chance?  Not a chance at all.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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