January 25, 2022
The Tool of Time
by Julie Zine Coleman
"We are going, we are going to a home beyond the skies, where the fields are robed in beauty, and the sunlight never dies" (Bright Home Above, public domain). With this stanza, Fanny Crosby ventured into the world of hymn writing. She was 43 years old. Her first attempt was set to music by William Bradbury, who days later played it as a Sunday school song in a New York church. Her song writing career had begun.
Flip through any hymn book, and you'll soon see the name Fanny Crosby. Some of our most loved hymns, like "Blessed Assurance," "To God Be the Glory," and "The Old Rugged Cross" were penned by this gifted poet. Her words reflect an intimately close relationship between her and her Savior.
Fanny was prolific in her work; over the second half of her lifetime she wrote the lyrics for more than 8,000 hymns. She was eventually forced to use pseudonyms because publishers were reluctant to put so many hymns by one writer into the same hymn book.
Why did God wait for her to begin this ministry until she was 43? I had a similar thought in 2006 as I packed my years of school teaching materials away and closed my plan book for the last time. At the age of 49, I was finally moving toward my dream of speaking and writing full time. I had wanted this for more than a decade. Why did God have me wait so long?
When Samuel anointed David as the next king of Israel, David was a mere lad. He was so young, his father didn't even think to bring him inside to meet Samuel upon his arrival. God had already picked David out of the crowd as the one after his own heart. But David was not ready to take on the responsibilities of leading a nation. He had a lot of growing up to do.
So God placed David in an unusual leadership training course: Desert Survival Tactics 101. David spent some of what could have been the most productive years of his life hiding in caves and running from King Saul, who was out to kill him. God was taking a very long time to fulfill his promise. Several times, David could have killed Saul and ended his desert torture. His mighty men balked at the wait. But David knew God's time table was best. So he insisted on waiting for God to make it happen.
David finally took the throne over a decade after his initial anointing. Only now was he ready. God used those many years in the desert to prepare his servant for the task.
We see the same process repeated in several biblical characters. Moses spent 40 years in the desert before God put him in charge over his chosen people. Joseph spent 13 years as a slave and then a prisoner waiting for God. Paul spent three years in the desert of Arabia after his conversion in preparation for ministry to the Gentiles. Not one minute of discomfort or suffering would go for naught. As James 1:4 promises, "Let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
The fact of the matter is, while we tap our foot impatiently waiting for God to move on our behalf, he is not idly sitting back. He is at work in us. He uses every circumstance to teach us, strengthen us, and prepare us for what lies ahead. Time is not our enemy. When it comes to God, time is our friend.
I learned the hard way it is a mistake to bake bread before it is finished rising. The yeast needs time to feed off the sugar and give off the gases which give bread lightness and texture. Bread baked too early is heavy and sits like a weight in your stomach. Some processes need time. To rush them is to sacrifice quality in the end. I wonder if Fanny Crosby could have written those beautiful words while in her 20's. The depth of her writing reflects a relationship and trust in God that took half a lifetime to develop.
God often is not in a hurry with us, because some things require time.
"With the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you..." 2 Peter 3:8-9 NASB
This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).
About the author: Julie Zine Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or crafting. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.
Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens in God’s Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.
Join the conversation: How has God used time as a development tool in your life?