Hab. 3:2 O Lord, I have heard of your reknown, and I stand in awe, O Lord, of your work. In our own time revive it; in our own time make it known; in wrath may you remember mercy.
Many years ago, on a Saturday night, I turned to my husband and asked if he would bring a step ladder to church the next morning because I needed it for my sermon. The odd look he gave me was only momentary, he was used to my unusual requests when it came to sermons.
I was preaching from Habakkuk, the part where he went up into his prayer tower and asked God, “How long?” I used the ladder as my prayer tower and I asked God, “How long?”
I don’t always need a tower, or a ladder to ask that of God. Lately, each time I drive by a gas station I ask. I’ve found myself asking as my heart is breaking over the strained relationship between father and daughter. I ask as I listen to my friend tell me of her heartache over her very ill and aging parent. How long, God? How long will this go on? How long must I endure this? How long do they have to suffer? How long will they remain stubborn and separated? How long? How long?
I have never really understood the timing of God. I know that He is neither early or late. Mary and Martha probably didn’t think that when they finally saw Jesus show up four days after Lazarus had died. Four days. Really Jesus? Is that how much you cared? You couldn’t have come sooner? Can’t you hear their questions? Perhaps you’ve asked questions like they did.
Jesus is unphased by their questioning. That gives me hope. Jesus didn’t scold them. Maybe that means, like Mary and Martha, like Habakkuk, it’s okay for me to ask all my “how longs” as well. Maybe in the asking I’ll come to the place where Habakkuk arrived. He had seen God work and knew that the plan was happening according to God’s timing, and that timing was just right.
I have never been any good at waiting. I get impatient. I want it now, whatever the latest “it” might be. What I have learned, painfully at times, is that right now is not always the best time, and what I want is not always God’s best for me. One look through the Old Testament should convince me of that. Just look at all the tragic stories that come from rushing God’s timing and plan.
So maybe this Lenten season is the time to wait. Don’t make any major purchases, or any long term commitments. Instead of giving into our spontaneity and compulsive nature, we should seek to get in tune with God’s timing. Afterall, according to Habakkuk, it’s a pretty awesome thing!