The American astronaut Buzz Aldrin once said “Timing has always been a key element in my life. I have been blessed to have been in the right place at the right time.” And, of course, this reminds me of the old saying in comedy, “Timing is everything.”
It really is amazing when all the elements of time, opportunity, ability, and circumstances mix together to create just the right environment for things to happen! Frankly, I could sum up most of my life by discussing events based solely on the right time and the wrong time! One particular experience that comes to mind is the day of my ordination as a deacon in the Orthodox Church. I didn’t come to Orthodoxy until my early 40s and had already been a clergyman in the Evangelical Protestant world. When I came to Orthodoxy, I had already decided that the days of being a clergyman for me were over. I was content with being a layman in the Church and using my gifts as the Church saw fit.
Fast forward several years and now I’m standing in the Cathedral in Atlanta preparing to enter the ordained clergy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. Timing is everything!
So, what does it take to know when the “right” time is for this or that decision, change, or action? Well, to be honest, I’m still not sure, but I am convinced it has everything to do with discernment AND a willingness to not see any moment of my life as wasted or unhelpful. Even the sad times, the hard times, and the scary times, all are redeemed by a willingness to mine out the wisdom in those moments!
Just take a look at our Gospel Lesson for today in Mark 1:9-15. Since we are at the beginning of a New Year, let’s look at the beginning of the Lord’s ministry:
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when He came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens opened and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove; and a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” The Spirit immediately drove Him out into the wilderness. And He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered to Him. Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel.”
Just look at what precedes the Lord’s launch of His ministry to save the world – An Amazing Baptism, A Time of Temptation and the Company of both wild beasts AND angels, and then the time was right, the “time is fulfilled,” to announce the Kingdom of God!
All of our lives are filled with amazing moments and challenging moments. Times when we’ve made the right choice and (maybe more often) times when we’ve made the wrong choice. Our lives are packed with joyous events and times when we feel surrounded by “wild beasts.” But we shouldn’t forget about the angels surrounding us either. One of the main reasons I mess up being able to discern when the time is right is when I forget to realize the world, and reality is bigger than just what I can see! When I forget the spiritual side of being physical, I don’t take into account the whole picture of a moment and I make a wrong turn.
Suffice it to say that the timing in our lives is best experienced by embracing all the wisdom life teaches us moment by moment and not allowing our hearts to be deceived by the false notion that “that was a waste of time” or “I will never recover from that bad choice.” The key to getting the timing right in my life depends on my willingness to live my life awake to each moment by God’s grace and to humbly learn both dependence on Him AND confidence in Him. It is when I am most focused on Christ that I am most awake to the rest of my life and all the people in my life. And keeping this Christ-centered perspective in the very front of my attention is the key to reset my idea of “Normal” living from mediocrity to actual spiritual maturity.
Today, are you struggling with getting the timing right in your life? Are to grieving over bad choices and wrong decisions? OK, this “godly sorrow” will bring you to true repentance IF you are willing to accept that even your bad choices are filled with potential wisdom for future living AND growing you up to that point that the period of being tempted and surrounded by “wild beasts” and “angels” will teach you how to get the timing right in your life. It’s all part of learning how to live a Normal Orthodox life!
P.S. “You appeared to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has left its mark upon us. With fuller understanding, we sing to You: “You came, You were made manifest, the unapproachable light.”
Don’t forget to share this devotional with someone today. If it helped you, chances are it can help someone you know.