Timing is Everything

I love breakfast bread. Banana bread, zucchini bread, berry bread, you name it!

But when you make any one of these yummy treats, timing is everything. If you take it out of the oven too early because just because it looks done, you end up with gooey insides of batter that never baked all the way through. If you take it out too late, it’ll be too dry, with edges that may have even burned a little.

Timing really does matter! And it matters for more than just banana bread.

I was studying 1 Peter 5:6-9 this morning, which says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are” (NLT).

Peter writes an awful lot about suffering in this letter, and not once does he tell the believers to pray for an end to their suffering. He gives them practical guidance for how to live the Christian life right in the midst of it.

One attitude he encourages us to have is that of trust. “So if you are suffering in a manner that pleases God, keep on doing what is right, and trust your lives to the God who created you, for he will never fail you” (4:19).

Having an attitude of trust in our Creator requires an additional attitude of humility before him. He knows so much better than we do, about e v e r y t h i n g!

As we humble ourselves before God, we trust that He knows what’s needed for his glory. Thinking back to our banana bread, when we get it just right, don’t we want accolades for its yummy deliciousness? My friend, we are the bread, and He is the baker! When we are lifted up in honor at the right time, who do you think is really going to get the glory and praise? I have a feeling that any coming our way will get redirected to the Author and Perfecter of our faith!

God sees our hearts. He knows what it’s going to take to bring us to completion. Do we trust Him enough to leave us in the oven of trial and suffering until we’re done on the inside? There is a great reward coming, friends. “But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it” (3:14).

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:6-7

Disintegration

Lilacs are one of my favorite things to smell in the spring. They can be overwhelming for some folks, but I love them! Especially since my sniffer is on the weak side. We’ve got a lilac bush growing behind our house that’s been trimmed to look more like a tree. I love the scent wafting in through the windows when it’s in bloom!

But no matter how much I love it, I had to do the unthinkable and cut part of it down this week. Zooming out, you can see that this stem was being held up by an old frame.

It was flowering in the spring and putting out new growth, but it was so weak it couldn’t even stand on its own! Closer inspection revealed the issue:

missing bark and cracked inner wood strewn with holes.

First of all, you shouldn’t be able to see the inside of the trunk at all! It should be solidly covered with bark. But the bark has been peeled away, and the inside eaten by bugs (which had in turn been hunted by woodpeckers).

Closer to the base was a section where I could easily pick the inner wood apart with my fingers once a bit more bark was peeled away. Disintegration had set in.

As sad as it made me, I knew the weakened stem had to go.

With just a quick glance, it would look like nothing was really wrong here. But getting up close and personal made everything clear! Something had to be done.

Life

If I had to choose one word to describe life these days, it would be “tumultuous.” I know you’ve seen and heard voices clamoring on just about every issue under the sun. Everyone has been affected by something, and everyone wants to be heard . . . but not too many folks are willing to listen anymore (unless what they hear is in line with the opinion they already hold, of course).

We’re stressed by events, stressed by circumstances, stressed by opposing views, stressed by politics, stressed by relationships . . . so many things are pulling on us that we are breaking down in areas where we thought we were strong. We may have had all the answers before and put on a good show, but what’s on the inside is becoming visible for the world to see.

We thought we trusted God, but it turns out we trusted in our ability to control situations. We trusted in our bank accounts. We trusted in our own intelligence. We trusted in our plans for the future. We trusted in the essential goodness of humankind.

And when all of those things have let us down, we feel that we can’t take anymore. We go on the offense in order to defend ourselves. The best defense is a great offense, right? So we go on the attack. We attack people’s ideals, ideas, and very character. We attack anything that might possibly bring additional strain on our lives, as well as on our emotional and mental faculties.

And our lack of trust in God is glaringly obvious to everyone watching.

Could it be that God is allowing these times of pressure to open our eyes to our need for Him? To strip us of our pride and reliance on things that won’t last forever? Perhaps it’s time to visit the Master Gardener for a bit of pruning.

We seem to think we were meant to be saved from the troubles of this life, and are shocked when they arrive. Is that what Jesus meant when He said, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33 NLT)?

I don’t think so! But He did promise us his peace. Are we willing to take that peace as our own? We are far from world peace, my friend. There is only one True Source of lasting, inner peace. It’s not going to be found in our own strength, in our savings account, in our government officials, or anywhere else in this world and its systems. Our peace is found in Christ alone.

Trust

The first evidence of trust in God should be a peace that we carry with us no matter what we’re going through. Yes, there will be sad days, there will be mad days, there will be unexplainably puzzling days. But we can have a deep sense of God’s peace in each and every one of those days that carries us through, and that peace will be noticeable to others.

Hard times are nothing new. The Psalmist wrote, “This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him” (Psalm 91:2). Without the storms and battles of this life, would there be any need of a refuge? No. But since we experience both throughout our lives here on earth, wouldn’t it be a good idea to have the strongest refuge and fortress possible? Our God is the Creator of everything. He holds it all together. I think we can trust him to be strong enough for what are puny problems in comparison!

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding” (Psalm 3:5 NLT). Our own understanding can be pretty cloudy sometimes. Are we willing to trust God when things don’t match up with our expectations or perspective of what should be? What about when someone has a differing view of something we hold very near and dear? Are we able to give it to God and trust the outcome? What we see now is but a speck in time. Are we willing to trust that He has the end game in view, and has since the beginning?

And finally, “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). If we are filled completely with joy and peace as we overflow with confident hope, could it be possible that others might notice?

How have these times affected you, friend? Would you say that others can perceive joy, peace, and hope in your life? If not, maybe it’s time to have a heart-to-heart with your Heavenly Father. Ask him to show you where your trust is lacking, and determine be obedient to his leading in the days and weeks to come.