Not long ago I wrote of the courage of Jesus as he made his way toward Jerusalem. The text says that he “set his face” toward his destination (Luke 9:51, 53). He was determined to get there even though the authorities were waiting in Jerusalem to take his life. Yet we read that on a different occasion he “remained in Galilee” not wanting to go to Jerusalem because the religious authorities there were determined to kill him (John 7:1). Sounds like after thinking it over he decided not to run the risk. However, as the following verses tell us, he did go up a day or so later when “his time had fully come” (vvs. 8, 10). You will remember that his brothers had been urging him to go to Jerusalem so that more of his followers could see the miracles he was doing. But Jesus waited until it was the right time for him to go. It wasn’t the opposition of the authorities that kept him in Galilee for a time, but an awareness that everything has its own time. He was waiting for that right time.
Is there a lesson here for us? Is there a right time, from God’s standpoint, for us to do a certain thing? I believe so. In ordaining our life, God has laid out a specific track for us to follow. We don’t expect a child to go to college just out of grade school; we know that there are several years of maturing that need to take place. Perhaps God sees that same need in our life and has us wait for the time being. Waiting is probably the most difficult task for today’s busy person. We are used to getting a thing done by just doing it. Don’t bother with preparation. (I understand it was a surprise for Nike to discover that their iconic slogan “Just do it” had its origin in the dying words of an infamous murderer.) In any case, most of us have a hard time waiting for God to tell us what HIS next step is for us. He doesn’t seem to be in as much of a hurry as we are.
Jesus was content to wait in Galilee (continuing his ministry of course) until the Father told him it was okay to go. For us to conduct our life like Jesus on this occasion is to keep on doing what God has assigned until he says, “Now is the right time for you to take that next step.” And how will we know if that “voice” is God’s or someone else’s? In my experience, if a person has been listening to Him on a regular basis they are more able to distinguish his voice at that moment when they need guidance. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul tells the believers, “If on some point you think differently, God will make it clear to you” (3:15). So wait till he says the time has come, then move ahead. The neat part is that if you are making a mistake he has promised to make that clear to you. You will reach your goal more quickly if you don’t waste your time running down dead ends.