The miracle of God’s timing

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Awhile back, I wrote about God speaking through dead car batteries. I still believe that God talks through events in ways that I understand. I can’t bridge the gap to my Creator so God has to speak in ways that make sense to me. I’ve thought about this post a fair bit lately, in light of subsequent events, and now I think that much of the good was in the timing of events, not merely the what and but also the when.

That’s where I have been finding miracles. For example, on a larger and historical level, the parting of the Red Sea, described in Exodus, could have actually happened, a natural phenomenon caused by winds, and knowing that science explains the event doesn’t diminish the miracle, for me. That it started exactly when Moses and the people of Israel needed it, and ended exactly when they needed it to end, is the miracle.

On a personal level, back in 2020, I wrote about my father’s death. My father had at least three heart attacks, probably more, I don’t know, and it seemed likely that he would die from one. I am sure that the last one, coming about 9:00 on Thanksgiving morning, was the best possible way for it to happen, and coming there and then saved other lives. He died in his own home, with his family present, and that was better for him. If that same heart attack had come a few hours later? At highway speeds on roads crowded with holiday traffic? With my mother sitting beside him, trying to control the car? That’s an awful thought that I don’t care to explore. Other people are alive today because my father died around 9:00 AM rather than 1:00 PM.

There’s a blog that I like, Pathos, which hosts guest bloggers on Christianity. About a month ago, an author suggested that the miracles in the New Testament didn’t actually happen because we don’t see them happening today. The premise makes sense, that if miracles were happening today like they did in Scripture then we would hear about them, and if they are not happening now then they probably didn’t happen in the past. I understand the reasoning, but I don’t agree.

Not every miracle that I see is that powerful or dramatic. I hear God working in the little stuff, which also makes sense to me, if I am also called to be faithful in the little stuff (Luke 16:10). It’s things like the unexpected email from a friend that gave me new information for a scholarly work just before I returned my revised file to the editor. It’s things like being delayed for a few seconds by another driver and then seeing something dangerous on the road ahead, a careless left turn or a deer crossing the road, something bad that would have happened had I kept my own schedule.

That we can identify the logical reasons for the delay doesn’t mean that God had nothing to do with it. I believe in a God who is, among other things, rational. If calling it a blessing rather than a miracle makes it go down easier, that’s cool with me.

Returning to the parting of the Red Sea, that story is part of the faith-history of Israel, which is to say, events seen reciprocally through the lenses of history and faith, each dynamic influencing the other. On a personal level, I may take a particular event, like one of those mentioned here, as evidence of God’s providence and thus a reason for faith. The Book of Hebrews calls faith the evidence of things not seen, and it’s not for me to disagree, only to say that I find God in events in my own life, my personal faith-history. When I get stuck on a problem, I remember that I have encountered and solved similar problems in the past. When I call on God, I remember that God has helped me in the past.

Along those same lines, we have some ability to recognize good and bad things, acts and events that are consistent with what we know that God typically wants or does not want. It’s easy to look at something so clearly good, something that seems clearly to be something that should happen, and lose faith in God because it doesn’t happen. How that fits into the larger time line and plan, though, those are things that are much harder to see.

Whether you prefer Garth Brooks’ take on unanswered prayers or the trope about how sometimes the answer is no, I’m starting to believe that often the answer is more correctly, “Not right now.” I find God sometimes in what happens, and sometimes in when it happens.