By Anastasia Howland
How many times have you looked at something you know you need to get done, but put it off to a later date? You think to yourself, “I’ll do it later, when the time is right.” You get bored of the chapter you’re reading for history class. “I’ll read it later. Maybe it’ll seem interesting then,” you say to yourself. Your friends walk into the library, but you’re in the middle of working on an English paper. “Hang out with them now. You can write it some other time.” Your favorite rom-com is on TV, but you have a psychology test to study for. “Microwave some popcorn and get ready for the movie. You can study after it’s done.”
Don’t worry. We’re all guilty of this.
We ignore that little voice in our head that says, “You know, we should really do this now.” We convince ourselves that the time isn’t right, that there will be a better time to do it if we just wait a little longer. We’ll be more interested in it, or more awake, or more focused. We push aside the better judgement of that little voice in our head, ignoring the reality of the consequences we’ll experience later. And how often do we do this same thing with the most important voice in our life—our Father God?
I’m certainly guilty of pretending I don’t hear His voice asking me to do something, and even of talking back to Him when I so foolishly think I know better. I’ll tell Him, “No God, she’ll think I’m weird if I randomly ask to pray for her—maybe later, if prayer comes up in conversation.” “No God, I’m too tired to help him study right now. Somebody else will.” “No God, I have a big project to work on right now. I’ll talk to them about You when I’m not so busy.” I recently had one of these moments, when I just wanted to wait for what I thought was the “right time.”
Over spring break, a group of 32 people from Montreat College and the surrounding community traveled overseas to the Holy Land. All students were required beforehand to choose one of the sites on the itinerary, write a 10-page research paper on the site, and then prepare a devotion to give at that site in Israel. I chose Bethlehem.
When we think of Bethlehem today, we still think of “Silent Night.” We think of it as a quiet, quaint little spot filled with sheep and shepherds. I imagined giving my devotion while sitting in the middle of a green field, birds chirping, a gentle breeze blowing. But when we reached Bethlehem, I quickly realized my devotional time was not going to be anything like this. In the 2000 or so years since Jesus was born there, the modern world has not left Bethlehem behind. My idea of a peaceful spot was soon paved over with cement, disturbed by the incessant honking of car horns, and entirely uprooted by the lack of anything green. There was barely a tree in sight, never mind my peaceful green field.
We spent about an hour touring the Church of the Nativity—a church built over the cave that many believe Jesus was born in—and I was to give my devotion afterwards. The only problem was… I really didn’t want to. It definitely didn’t seem like the “right time.” The scene was anything but peaceful, and I was suffering from a splitting headache. “No God, it’s too loud and my head hurts. I’ll give my devotion later.”
After we finished touring the church, it seemed as if the group had forgotten that I was supposed to give my devotion; they began walking down the street towards our bus. I was just going to roll with it, wait for the “right time” to come later, perhaps at a quiet spot in our hotel once my headache had subsided. I began walking with them, but suddenly our leader, Montreat Bible Professor Dr. Don Shepson, stopped and whipped around to face me. He remembered I hadn’t gotten to give my devotion. A few moments later, there I was in the middle of Bethlehem, battling to proclaim God’s faithfulness over the deafening sounds of a city street.
Once I finished sharing, I realized that I felt refreshed. My headache had subsided, and I didn’t notice the honking horns as much anymore. I was suddenly very thankful that Dr. Shepson had remembered, and hadn’t let me wait for the “right time.” Had I waited, I would have missed the amazing opportunity to proclaim the gospel in the very place that it began on earth: Jesus’s birthplace.
After I’d shared, a sweet, older gentleman that had come on our trip with his wife approached me. “You know, I was thinking,” he began. “How many times people have shared the gospel in settings they didn’t want to—in the middle of wars and all kinds of distractions. And you were just in one of those settings, but you did it. Thank you.” I was so humbled, and felt so foolish, because what he said was true. People proclaim the gospel amid wars and natural disasters, and there I had been a few moments ago, bothered by some car horns and a headache. I immediately gave thanks to God that He didn’t let me wait for what I thought was the “right time.” Next time I hear Him asking me to pray with someone, or proclaim His word, I hope He does the same thing. He’s the Creator of the universe, and time itself, too. He certainly knows when the “right time” is.