Dave preached from Galatians 4:4 TNIV this morning, a favourite text of his. It was perhaps fitting that he spoke about the ‘right time’ on the day that clocks had been put back one hour in the UK! We do this in order to have lighter mornings as winter approaches, but of course, the actual number of hours of daylight remains the same; altering the clocks is simply for our convenience. Nowadays, we seem always to be looking at the time and often feel we do not have enough time, but of course, the issue is not how much time we actually have, but how we use our time! We often feel like the White Rabbit in ‘Alice in Wonderland’: ‘I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date!’
Mark’s recent visit to America shows us how difficult it is for our bodies to adjust to different time zones. In previous times, times within the UK were standardised with the advent of the railways so that people could coordinate meeting trains at destination points. From ancient times, we have been busy working out ways of measuring times (sundials, candles etc.) and often are keenly working to a timetable.
The problem is that God is also working to a timetable, but His timescales are often different to ours! God is never late. We are now eight weeks away from Christmas, which is an annual reminder that Jesus came at just the right time in history. There had been many prophecies about His birth, but God prepared the world for the arrival of His Son in a number of ways. There was religious preparation in the history of the people of Israel. There was cultural preparation in the reign of Alexander the Great (which allowed Greek to be the ‘lingua franca’ of the world) and political preparation in the influence of the Roman empire (with their emphasis on road-building and the ‘pax romana’). Even the good idea of the emperor Caesar Augustus which led to a census being taken had a direct input into God’s story.
At just the right time, God works. We have to trust in His goodness, timing and love. God has promised many things for Goldthorpe. He is preparing His people and the people around us for the work He is going to do. We mustn’t get weary and despondent with the waiting period. One ordinary day in Goldthorpe – just as in one ordinary day in Bethlehem, God’s glory shone around – we will see the glory of God manifested. Already, God is working in our area, in local churches such as the Methodist Church at Furlong Road, the ‘Legacy’ church and ‘Gateway’ church in Barnsley. Nationally, Pentecostal churches in the UK are growing. Even in our own outreaches, we are seeing growth: over 50 children and young people have been regularly attending the youth meeting on Mondays and the Mums ‘n’ Toddler group is growing, as is attendance at the Coffee Mornings on Saturday. We need to remember that there is a time for everything (Eccl 3:1 TNIV) and that God is able to do far beyond anything we can imagine or ask! (Eph 3:20-21 TNIV). Let’s keep waiting for God’s right time!