From the Pastor God of the Last Minute

God of the Last Minute

Whether we study the Bible, the history of Israel, or the church, a consistent theme reappears: God likes to take his time doing his will, but he’s never late. This means that often (very often), he prefers to wait until the last minute, the 59th minute of the eleventh hour, to answer our prayers and bring about his will and purposes.

That God likes to do it this way is not hard to prove. Just read the hundreds of books written by Christians throughout the ages describing this characteristic of God. Missionaries, preachers, evangelists, or anyone else tells the same story. God lets us wait and wait (and wait some more) until the very last second before opening the door or catching us in our fall.

It may seem like unnecessary drama, but it fits God’s character and historical pattern perfectly. After going through one of these spiritual roller coaster rides, we can all notice this: it’s in those last moments or hours of expectant waiting that our faith takes on new dimensions. We are being stretched as we near the end.
If God answered our prayers of desperation the moment we prayed (which he sometimes does), we wouldn’t grow very much. But if he lets us hang on in fervent prayer for an extended time, causing us to recognize that we depend on him and not ourselves, then he accomplishes something he doesn’t in some other way.

Also, because of our fallen, disobedient nature, there’s something about us that we are very slow to admit. When we find our way out of some kind of trouble in some way, we tend to think that it was really due to some skill or cleverness on our part. If there is the slightest doubt that it might have been God who helped us, we usually lean toward self-congratulations rather than humble praise and thankful submission to our Rescuer.

But if God waits until the very last second, after allowing every possible attempt on our part to get ourselves out of the jam, then we are more apt to see the divine hand in the whole business. If at midnight we are in a tiny rubber life raft on the high seas, with dense fog all around us, and large gray fins encircling us (this very thing happened to my father’s friend Tony), we quickly run out of stubborn self-reliance and brilliant solutions. Then, when, after uttering a prayer of absolute desperation (as in Tony’s case), a sudden, unexpected, totally impossible deliverance takes place, we acknowledge God’s presence and against-all-odds rescuing power. God chooses this path for many of us as he wants us to recognize his perfect plan and purpose for our lives.

So where’s the good news, and what should we do? In such life experiences, the Creator makes his favorite point again: “I’m God, and you aren’t. I am in charge of your life, and you aren’t. I have a purpose for your life, and now it’s time for you to pay attention!” Tony did. And so should we when God steps in and fixes things for us in the nick of time.

The next time you feel that God takes his own sweet time, just thank him for making his presence known and clear, for doing it his way, and for training you to meet the challenge ahead. Just say yes to his call to serve him. Abandon your private kingdom and follow him into his—this is the way to abundant joy and life.

Photo by Norman Tsui on Unsplash

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