In God’s Time

Since my last post, I have seen “my” cedar waxwings several more times. I have also seen (and heard) plenty of activity among our local mockingbirds, cardinals, robins, and chickadees. Not to mention a pair of hawks building a nest in a nearby park, plus a female house sparrow (the same species of which Jesus said “not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it,” Matthew 10:29) that obligingly posed at every-feather-obvious range last Sunday morning on my neighborhood Starbucks patio. Although the spring equinox is still over two weeks away, the avian population of Houston is already in full anticipation mode, turning up the bustle and territorial aggression.

One might even dare call them “impatient” for the breeding season to begin. In more northern climates where the breeding opportunity window is narrower, I have heard more than one naturalist use such phrases as “no time to lose” in referring to the mating/building/brooding/hatching/fledging cycle. And here in “subtropical” south Texas, we often see the first migratory species arrive from Central and South America as early as January, presumably to be first in line for the best nesting sites.

Still, I doubt that birds are “impatient” in the same sense as we humans. They, the rest of the wildlife world, and even the cat dozing in my mother’s window or chasing errant flies through the house, do what they can when they can, and know instinctively when to hunt or forage, when to rest, when to keep busy with the reproductive cycle, when to engage fight-or-flight mode, and when to accept setbacks and try another path. Whereas we, God’s most intelligent creation, have the unpleasant habit of trying to make time and traffic run faster by our own willpower. We “run away when no one is chasing” (Proverbs 28:1), wear ourselves out wishing reality would change to suit us, and take a my-preferred-way-or-forget-it attitude toward setbacks.

When Jesus said “Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns … your heavenly Father feeds them” (Matthew 6:26), He put His finger on one problem animals don’t have: the obsession with storing up “enough” material resources to cover all contingencies. Not that anyone should put immediate gratification first in all circumstances (which comes with its own stress and anxiety issues anyway), but the person who continually focuses all energy on a multitude of possible scenarios tomorrow, will never find time or heart to savor any of today’s gifts.

Even those without the constant-worry habit can derail themselves by losing patience with God’s timing. Many a serious Christian has started out with confidence that God will bring along the perfect spouse or job in His own time, only to conclude after several years that “this is more than long enough and evidently He doesn’t really care”; then, when a less-than-ideal opportunity comes along, they take it against their better judgment–after all, any “something” seems better than the “nothing” they’ve gotten from God–and wind up regretting it for even more years.

Let’s not cast stones if we haven’t made that long-term a mistake; we flirt with similar temptations every time we moan “nothing ever changes” or “how long do I have to pray about this anyway?” All of which translates to, “God, I won’t believe that Your best is worth waiting for; I’m not sure You ever intend to deliver it at all.”

Let’s go back for a moment to the birds at nesting season. Had they human-level understanding, they’d find plenty to complain and worry about; besides the timeless hazards of habitat competition, predators, and weather, it’s no secret that in this age of development and deforestation, many species are finding it harder every year just to locate adequate wild space to keep their populations steady. If they were capable of appreciating their plight, would they also be capable of appreciating the promises implied in Romans 8:20-21: “Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay”?

More to the point, do we appreciate the promise? Can we accept that even if our greatest earthly dreams seem to take forever or fall to the ground completely, God still wants only the best for us? That, in eternity if not in our lifetimes, He has a glory prepared for us that will make all the hardship we’ve ever experienced seem less significant than a grain of sand under a fingernail (cf. Romans 8:18)? That, whatever we can or can’t make happen according to our own preferred schedules, God’s best is always worth waiting for?

Most of us say “yes” when the question is presented as above, in its theoretical sense. But when it becomes a practical question–whether the issue is being late for an appointment or living forty years with crippling and chronic pain–our heart reactions and decisions are the true proof of whether we believe it.

Will you trust God’s care both today and for the whole of your future?

Leave a comment


  1. Jerrie

     /  March 4, 2016

    Beautiful introduction to God’s design for time.

  2. To the recent-bird-activity list, add yesterday’s sighting of one barn swallow–best harbingers of spring I know around here.

  3. Jo Swank

     /  March 5, 2016

    Absolutely lovely, Kathy! Oh, that we would learn! : )

  4. elissa schutz

     /  March 16, 2016

    Peace in trusting. Thanks Kathy!


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