The Thing About Timing…

Jim lives in Pittsburgh and Sally lives in Chicago. Both Jim and Sally want to drive to St. Louis, which is 260 miles away from Chicago and 460 miles away from Pittsburgh. If Jim and Sally leave at the same time but Jim travels 60 miles per hour and Sally drives 30 miles per hour, who will reach St. Louis first?

Do you remember those old math problems that introduced scenarios like this one? I always hated these problems when I was in elementary school. I could’ve cared less who got there first. I just wanted to know what they were going to do once they got there! Do Jim and Sally know each other? Will they randomly meet? Why is Sally driving so slow? Does she have car problems? Is she one of those annoying drivers who stops up traffic on a two-lane highway because she’s preoccupied with talking on her phone?

But I digress. The purpose of the question was to get students to think about the logistics of timing. How do speed and distance interrelate? I’ll tell you this, though: everywhere I drive these days I’m still reminded of the importance of timing — especially when I traverse a busy parking lot.

If I hit my brake one time more than usual, I could either hit a car backing up or miss it! It’s all timing. When I put my truck into reverse and inch out of my own parking space, will there be a family walking out from beside the vehicle next to me? Will there be a car emerging into my field of view?

If you think about it, timing is essential to life on planet earth. It is timing that leads two people to the same place at the same time to meet. It is timing that leads to human conception and birth. It is timing that either leads us to places of safety or to an accident. (God’s providence plays a major role in all this, too, as He works through divine timing…)

Timing has been on the forefront of my mind over the past month as several personal and family incidents have rattled me. Last month I narrowly missed losing my life in a highway incident when an 18-wheeler suddenly stopped in front of me on the interstate in a rainstorm. I was pulling a 6,000-pound trailer and traveling 55 miles per hour when I threw on my brakes and watched in slow-motion horror as my weighty truck/trailer combo slid towards the back of the big rig. With a heavy trailer I needed three times the stopping distance and I didn’t have it. So I quickly glanced around me and instantly decided that hitting a highway sign would be better than getting sandwiched between my trailer and the truck. I also feared my trailer would flip, taking me with it down the highway embankment. By God’s grace and protection I managed to slide by the big rig and miss the sign. Had I not seen the trailer in front of me two one-hundredths of a second later than I did, I would have smashed into the back of the 18-wheeler and likely died a violent death. But I didn’t. Timing!

Last week my dad got into an auto accident in Houston. He was rear-ended by a speeding car and got sandwiched between that car and the vehicle in front of him. He’s all right, thank the Lord, but was shaken and sore. The thing is, he’s mad at himself because had he not delayed his trip by shopping at a few stores he wouldn’t have been in that particular accident.

I’m pretty bad at timing in other areas of my life. Take phone calls, for example. I can never seem to call someone when it is a good time to talk. Never! They are usually in the midst of something or on the phone with someone else. So I pretty much have given up on making unsolicited phone calls. Sorry, folks! I also have bad timing when it comes to connecting with people in-person.

Wanna have lunch this week? Oh, you’re busy? All week? Wanna get together for a beer and a burger? Oh really? Something every night this week? I see…

Timing is not my best friend! Unless I’m on the Interstate in a rainstorm, that is. Maybe people just wanna avoid me for some reason (begin the paranoia now…).

There are a lot of theological and spiritual aspects to timing, I’m sure, but right now my mind is transfixed on the experiential element and not the reasons why. I believe that God is sovereign and that He often changes timing to protect and/or benefit His children. He loves them, so why wouldn’t He?

Ah, yes, timing. It is the action of taking action, from the tiniest tap of a brake to a magnitude of avoiding a highway crash. God is there in the midst of it all and, for that, I am thankful. He has His own timing, too, you know? And it’s better than ours! Perfect, even. I’m even more thankful for that.

Be God’s!