Our family has had more question marks than periods and exclamation points for the last year. My husband’s mother died and his dad is suffering from the final stages of dementia. Our daughter graduated and moved across country to attend college, with its four years of never-ending question marks. My years as a stay-at-home mom are over and my various ministries are shifting in major ways. We have long periods of time where everything seems confusing and frustrating. Sometimes it seems impossible to see God’s plans for our lives or understand His timing.
When your children experience periods of life with more questions than answers, they may begin to question whether God does indeed have a plan for their lives. They may begin to question the timing God has clearly put into place. They may sadly even begin to question if God is indeed Lord of all the Universe when it appears He can’t give them the simplest answers or get His timing “right”.
It’s not just us though. Poor Abram and Sarai! They wanted kids just like most couples in their time. Yet year after year in their marriage passed with no children. God appears when they have probably long ago given up hope and tells them they will have more descendants than the stars in the Heaven. Suddenly, hope is restored. Then time passes and nothing happens. Still no kids.
God didn’t given Abram and Sarai a timetable. There was no “On June 7th next year you will have a baby” conversation. God just told them His plan. As we know, Sarai got tired of waiting and decided God needed a little help from her. The results were less than stellar and many have suffered consequences from the results of her attempts to improve God’s timing.
I am the firmest of believers God has a specific plan for each individual. A God who loves me enough to know the exact number of hairs on my head (my parents and husband don’t!) would surely have a plan of the things He would love for my life. He doesn’t take away my free choice to deviate from His plan, but there is one. I believes He uses the Holy Spirit through scripture, people, circumstances and our hearts to communicate His plan to us.
After college I lived in New York City for a period of time. Faithfully attending the local church, I met lots of wonderful people and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. At some point though, I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed to move south to Atlanta. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure why. Five years later my future husband showed up at my church in Atlanta. The interesting thing? Had I stayed in NYC, I would have met him five years earlier as he attended the same church I had and even had some of the same friends!
Over the years, we have often wondered about that. Would we have married five years earlier had I stayed in NYC? Why didn’t God give me some sort of sign to stay and meet my husband earlier? Did I mess up God’s timing somehow and it took Him five years to fix my mistake? Did one or both of us need five more years to be ready for marriage? Did our marriage need to place us in a certain time and place we would have missed had we married earlier? Did our daughter need to be born five years later so she could be in a certain time and place for something? As much fun as it may be to speculate, we will never know.
That’s the thing about God’s timing. We will most likely never understand it. In fact the older I get, the more I think that is the message at the heart of the book of Job. Our human brains are just not capable of handling the entire wisdom and knowledge of God. God knows it is in our best interest not to give us the entire plan for our lives at once (other than the plan of salvation which is the most important anyway.). He has reasons He doesn’t explain his timing to us. Oh sometimes, He allows us to understand things later (or at least we think we do). Most of the time though, it’s like Job’s friends. We will waste a lot of time making really wild guesses. In their case, God then came down and basically told them they were all wrong and that frankly they needed to stop trying to figure it out.
Ultimately, God’s plans and timing boil down to a huge exercise in faith. Nothing will build the faith of your children like learning to trust God has a plan and His timing is perfect. Especially, when Gods plans and timing are radically different from what they want.
So how do you begin teaching your children how to listen to God and wait for Him without becoming complacent and living life in front of a screen waiting for God to bring His plan to their door? In my next post, I will give you some tips for teaching your kids about God’s plans and timing.