For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
I spent last spring studying abroad in Rome. It was a wonderful experience, and one that has continued to affect my life and the lives of my friends. Of course, the many great memories that accompanied life in a foreign country were mixed with the difficulties of language and culture discrepancies, obstacles that sometimes had to be overcome.
One of the more frustrating parts of the semester was the extremely unreliable bus system. Although the buses had a regular schedule in theory, it was never followed in practice. On several occasions, we would be waiting at the bus stop for over 30 minutes after the bus was supposed to have arrived.
In addition to providing us with ample opportunities to practice patience, this irregular bus system could be more than a little irritating. Two of my friends missed a flight to Ireland because the bus that should have taken them to the airport simply did not show up.
Of course, there were also occasionally times when the buses would come ahead of schedule, when we would approach the bus stop 5 or 10 minutes early, only to see the bus pulling away, and we might have to wait well over half-an-hour for the next bus.
Sometimes it feels like much of our lives is spent at an Italian bus stop – either waiting around impatiently for something to happen or finding that we missed something we had wanted. In a way, God’s timing is much like that of the Italian buses: unpredictable.
My friends who missed their flight to Ireland discovered how difficult it is to make plans when one is uncertain of timing. Similarly, there are many instances in our lives where we do not know God’s timing. But unlike the Italian buses, God is reliable! We may not know His timing or understand the big picture of our lives as He sees it, but we do know one thing for certain: God is all-powerful and all-loving. We know that He is good, and we can trust Him to provide us with what we need – in His time. We can rely on God even when His timing is not what we would like.
Part of trusting in God’s timing is consulting Him when we make decisions. Because He knows the big picture and we do not, we need to pray for His guidance when we make choices, especially important ones that can have big effects on our future. If we pray and try our best to follow His will, we have no need to be anxious.
When we start trusting God, we can take a deep breath and relax. We know we can rely on God, even when His timing may be faster or slower than we would like. And as my friends and I discovered in Italy, those times of waiting at the bus stop can actually be a lot of fun in themselves. When we trust God, we will not be anxiously and impatiently waiting for things that we cannot control. Instead, we will enjoy each day, growing and learning along the path as we seek to follow God’s will and trust in His perfect love.