It’s frustrating when someone makes an appointment with you, for which you must rearrange several things to be able to make, only to have them not show up and not call to let you know they aren’t going to show up. In our society we expect people to keep some kind of calender and to keep up with what they have promised so that time isn’t wasted. It is amazing when a person goes into another culture, that has a completely different attitude about time and and appointments how difficult it is for us to adjust. Some years ago I carried a campaign group to the central part of Trinidad to preach the good news of Jesus to them. It took me several days to relax and take the pressure off and go with the flow of things there. Each day as we campaigned we didn’t arrive until the middle of the morning and then after lunch we took a rest time. Services in the evening were announced to start at 7:00 P.M. but the actual service wasn’t intended to begin until about 8:00. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first night of the campaign I preached for close to an hour and extended an invitation. But the preacher for the church stood and came up to the pulpit to tell me they were not ready for me to stop preaching. He said I was to preach for another hour. At the end of another hour I again extended the invitation. This time we had an invitation song but when I started to sit down after it, he again came up, shaking his head, saying, “No, no. Now it is time for people to ask questions about what you have said. We will have another hour of questions and answers.” To say that this whole thing went against my way of looking at things and the time elements would be a huge understatement.
One of the greatest frustrations we have with the God of the Universe is that we can’t convince Him to stay on our calender. We want God to be like room service at an expensive hotel, which is always within our reach. If we call room service we think that they should be there in a few minutes with whatever we asked for. But God refuses to fit into such a cramped mold.
God’s timing is on a completely different level from ours. No wonder Peter explained to us that one day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. He knew we would become frustrated with the delay in the second coming of the Lord. He reminded us the “Lord is not slow concerning his promises as some people count slowness. But he is long-suffering toward us, not willing that anyone would perish but that all would come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) Peter said people would began to complain that everything was going on just like it always had and would say, “Where is the promise of his coming?”
God told Abraham he would give him the land he was walking around on, but it would be 430 years later. Imagine one of us being told by God he was going to give our descendants a particular piece of ground in 430 years. How would you respond to such a promise? I suspect most of us would think, “Four hundred and thirty years? I’ll be dead long before that. Even my grand kids and great grandchildren will be gone by then. But that promise had almost immediate fulfillment compared to his promise to Adam and Eve that he would send one as the seed of the woman to bruise the head of Satan while Satan would bruise his heal. Over four thousand years later Paul would say, “And when the fullness of time was come, God sent us a son.” (Galatians 4:4)
Sometimes we have an appointment with God that we don’t want to keep. The writer of Hebrews said in chapter 9, verse 27 “It is appointed to man to die once and after this the judgment.” Yet we don’t like to think about the day we will keep this appointment. It just never dawns on us we really don’t control when this day will come. But it will come for all of us and likely much sooner than we expect.
God is always on time in keeping his appointments, but he operates off his calender rather than ours. If you haven’t read the Book of Psalms lately try reading them anew and focusing on all the times David complains to God because he hasn’t shown up the way he thought he should have. In places he sounds a great deal like Job did when he complained that God wasn’t paying him any attention. He just wanted to present his case to the Lord and felt sure his fortunes would turn around. Who would ever have guessed that what Job thought of as God’s failure to meet his appointment as really God’s appointment?
When Jesus was baptized at the hand of John the Baptist, immediately the Spirit drove him into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil for forty days and nights. He fasted from food and drink during that time. At the conclusion Satan came at him with all his power to try to pull him away from the Father. Satan used both the weakness of Jesus from being without food for so long a time and the power of Jesus to perform miracles as a means of tempting him. But Jesus sent Satan away empty handed by appealing to the word of God.
Here’s the lesson we all need. You don’t always control your own calendar. When God makes an appointment for us, we will keep it. To be disappointed by God’s appointments is foolish and it turns us from the very one who is there to help us. So hear again the challenge of Jesus for us all. “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:33,34)