One of the hardest expressions on the ears of a child is “Not yet!” Patience is not a virtue among children and even big children (aka adults) find it hard. As believers we need to consciously cultivate the spiritual discipline of patience, especially when God makes us wait. Thankfully, He has given us a perfect role model of patience in His Son.
One day, Mary tried to rush God’s plans. She understood that the Lord Jesus would one day show His glory and power. So, in the crisis where celebrants at the wedding in Cana of Galilee were wanting more wine, Mary’s mind rushed forward. From her perspective, right then was the ideal time for the Lord Jesus to show His glory and launch millennial joy. Her desire was noble, but her timing was way off.
The Lord Jesus has to turn and say, “Woman, what have I to do with thee?” Demons used that same language on three occasions, publicly declaring a distinction between them and Him (Matt 8:29; Mark 1:24; 5:7; Luke 4:34; 8:28). Now the Savior uses it to respectfully note the difference between God’s Son and His mother Mary. He went on then to explain that His hour “was not yet come.” Notice these two key words, “Not yet!” Mary was pressuring, but He was waiting on God’s timing.
Commitment to the will of God is one thing. Commitment to the timeline of God is another. In other words, there is both the “what” of God’s will and also the “when.” Clearly, there was never any wavering in the Lord Jesus’ devotion to do the “what” God had planned for Him. Even entering the world He said, “Lo I come (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O God” (Heb 10:7). He was not like the son of whom the Lord Jesus spoke who was all revved up with emotion making great promises that he would go, but in the end never went. Even at the age of 12, His concern was His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). In the final week of His ministry He declared, “I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father Which hath sent Me” (John 5:30). In Gethsemane He was as resolute as ever declaring to the Father, “Not My will but Thine be done.” His devotion to the Father’s will was so great that He “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil 2:8).
Many believers are devoted to the “what” of God’s will, but struggle more with the “when.” It begs the direct question: Are we as desirous and committed to God’s timing as we are to what His plan entails? The Lord Jesus waited over 4000 years, from the sin of Adam, to be born in Bethlehem. Exactly, “when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son” (Gal 4:4). He was completely holy, devoted, and qualified to be the sacrifice for sin as a child and yet He waited over 30 years until finally He prayed, “Father, the hour is come” (John 17:1). Until the exact timing of God came about, His answer was, “Not yet!”
Satan tried to rush Him by offering “all the kingdoms of the world” (Matt 4:8). He refused. Later, Jesus perceived that they [the people] would “take Him by force to make Him a king” (John 6:15). Thank God, He refused again. He was committed to all of God’s will including the suffering of the cross. His time to reign would come, but at that time it was still, “not yet.”
Sometimes, well-intentioned folks can apply pressure for us to move ahead when God wants us to wait. First, Mary, a true believer pressured Jesus at the wedding in Cana. Then, His brothers pressured Him to leave Galilee and go to Judea to manifest His glory openly to attract more disciples (John 7:3-4). Again, He knew it was not on God’s timeline and He had to tell them, “Mine hour is not yet come.”
Often it requires discernment to perceive God’s timing. At the wedding in Cana, everything seemed to be aligned. There was definite need, He had full ability, and there was a clear opportunity. Even so, our blessed Savior would not get caught up in emotion. God’s timing overruled even need, ability, and opportunity.
For us, God has promised that “all things work together for good to them that love God” (Rom 8:28). But what if the “good” doesn’t come or is not manifested when we think it should be? Sometimes, the need is great, it is within our means, and opportunity arises. But what if God says, “Not yet”?
The Lord Jesus knew that God’s timing is always best. Every day of creation was perfectly planned. Even the timing and order of the rapture will be perfectly timed by our God Who does all things decently and in order. So, if that day was not God’s choice, this must mean that God had a better day in mind. In the end, the cross did not take place at a good time. Instead, it took place at the best time, the moment when the maximum glory would be brought to His Father’s name. Do we have this kind of settled confidence in knowing God’s timing is flawless?
One of our great fears, though, is to turn over full control and let God tell us what to do and when to do it. With this fearful mindset, a person takes independent action and leaves no room for waiting for guidance from God. A young man could rush to start a relationship fearing that someone else will win the heart of a young woman he is praying about. A sister could jump at a job opportunity and force her way in, fearing that maybe someone else will apply with better qualifications. The Lord Jesus did not worry like that. John records two occasions when people tried to interrupt God’s plan and take Him by force (John 7:30; 8:20). On both occasions, “no man laid hands on Him because His hour was not yet come.” God was faithful in controlling the circumstances involving others to maintain His timeline in the life of the Lord Jesus. Can we trust Him for the same in our lives?
The wisdom of a father to a son still stands: “In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He will direct thy paths” (Prov 3:5). He promises to direct both the “what” and the “when.” May God help us to be more like the patient, dependent Savior and to know more of God’s perfect timing in our lives.