TIMING IS EVERYTHING
“This is the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life.”
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:2-6
I am sure you have heard the old expression, “Timing is everything.” Solomon gives further advice about timing, “Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.” Timing and right circumstances are essential in sharing the gospel with a neighbor, but the Apostle Paul gives greater clarity as to when the Lord wants us to speak to someone about Him, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message.” There needs to be a heart that is open to the message of the Gospel. We have either experienced firsthand or observed someone else sharing the Gospel with an individual who is not ready for it. It is like force-feeding a child…it doesn’t work. Actually, it does more harm than good. On the other hand, we may have found our self walking away from a conversation and realizing that we missed a significant opportunity. That’s why Paul says in this passage, “Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” Paul was human like the rest of us and, believe it or not, could miss out on an opportunity that the Lord may have given him. Let’s observe how Alan waited for a God-given opportunity (kairos).
Alan Doswald’s Neighborhood
A few years ago, a 70-year-old man, let’s call him Joe, moved in across the street from us and we became friends. As we began building a relationship with him we realized he had no interest in hearing about the Lord. However, we continued to share about our own lives and our relationship with Jesus as the Lord led us to. Then the Lord opened a door. During one of our conversations, I mentioned to Joe that my wife had written a book. He said he would to like to read it. It just so happens that the purpose of her book is to clearly lay out the gospel message in an easy to understand way. It is designed for those who know little about Jesus and it brings them to a point where they can make an intelligent decision about accepting Christ as their Savior. So one day, after reading my wife’s book, Joe told me he wanted to be “reborn again,” baptized, and go to a protestant church. I asked him when, and he replied, “right now.” So, we walked across the street to our house where my wife and I led him to Christ. After he prayed to receive Christ, he leaned back in his chair and said, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life.” He was then baptized and began attending church with us when he was able to physically. Then his health began to decline so he was unable to attend church and he moved across town. So we visited him regularly at his new house and continued to disciple him there. He calls us his “pastors” and we’ve had the privilege watching Joe grow in the Lord over the years. God has turned his life around and his relatives see the difference. Over the years we have attended several of his family gatherings and they have welcomed us almost as though we are part of their family. We have found that our neighbors are connected to others who we can also love.
A time for reflection:
If Alan would have imposed the gospel on Joe, he more than likely would have been turned off and his network of relationships that were touched later would have never occurred. Joe’s statement, “This is the moment I’ve been waiting for my entire life” says it all…timing is everything in order to share the gospel with a receptive heart. Early on, Joe was in no way ready, but God prepared his heart in time through conversation and relationship with Alan and his wife. Jesus told His disciples to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men. I am sure one of the things that He emphasized was patience. If you have done any fishing you know that you must patiently wait for the fish to bite. I like that Alan didn’t give up on Joe when he said he was uninterested in hearing about the Lord. He waited until the timing was right. Is there a friend or a neighbor who has expressed to you they have no interest in the Lord, but they like you? Do you need to revisit this relationship and wait on the Lord to open their heart? Who might that be and what direction would the Lord like you to take with this person?
(Alan Doswald is the author of Pray and Do the Next Thing… and has served in full-time Christian ministry in Fresno, CA since 1972. He served in Youth for Christ for 10 years. Then in 1982, the Lord led him to found and direct Evangelicals for Social Action(ESA) in Fresno, to mobilize churches to help people in need. While directing ESA, he also served as a consultant for World Vision for 15 years, where he helped many cities across the U.S. develop Love INC ministries, which organize churches to work together to serve their communities. Alan continues to serve as Executive Director of ESA and Love INC in Fresno. Alan has a real heart for the neighboring movement and has been an incredible encouragement to me as we have worked together to further the work of loving our neighbors in Fresno and beyond. One of the significant ministries of ESA is Loving Our Neighbors headed up by Paul Haroutunian.)