When It’s Time


One day, years ago, when the concrete slab was finally poured for our new house, I e-mailed that good news to family and friends who had been agonizing with us over the slow start on the house. During the two months that had elapsed since we’d broken ground, they’d often heard me bemoan the fact that days, sometimes weeks, passed with no activity on what a friend jokingly referred to as “The Ponderosa.” Along with the news that the slab was in place, I mentioned that the builder had said the lumber would be delivered the next day and that he’d begin the framing the day after. Walls—at last!

The following day, my husband and I were awakened by the sound of torrential rain that continued for hours. By the end of the day, we’d received over 2 inches of liquid precipitation. Thus, my e-mail that evening read, “Needless to say, we did not get the expected delivery of the lumber. It may be next week before it comes—unless they ‘ship’ it in by boat! Oh well, what’s a few more days? I guess building a house is as someone said about birthing babies and dying, ‘When it’s time, it’s time.’ No amount of fretting over the construction will change the completion date. I might as well sit back and take it as it comes. Right?”

A friend replied, “I’m glad you’re so resigned to things as they are; I expected you to be chomping at the bit.”

Part of me was very ready to be rid of the frustrating hindrances! Another part of me realized it was foolish to “stew” over delays that were beyond my control.

Those months of slow construction forced me to choose between feeling extremely irritated and frustrated or feeling a calm acceptance of each day’s progress—or lack thereof. The value of choosing the latter had been pointed out to me as I’d read about a man who was so anxious following his open-heart surgery that he refused to go to sleep, fearing that if he slept he might not wake up. No amount of reassurance helped him relax until someone said, “Death comes like the birth of a baby. When it’s time, it’s time.”

How true! Unborn babies don’t plan their arrival based on due dates, work schedules, the readiness of the nursery, the time of day or night, the mother’s discomfort, or anything else. They’re born “when it’s time.”

Likewise, death comes for each of us “when it’s time.” For example, some die even when surrounded by highly trained medical staff and the very best life saving equipment. Some die suddenly; others linger a long time while awaiting death. During tornadoes, some families survive; others perish.

I’m learning, as a result of life’s experiences in birthing, dying, and building a house, to agree with David. Although he was dealing with numerous problems and frustrations, he said, “I am trusting you, O LORD, saying, ‘You are my God!’ My future is in your hands.” (Psalm 31:14-15a, New Living Translation)

To David’s words I would add, “You, O God, bring all things to pass—in Your time. Therefore, I refuse to be fearful about the future or to be frustrated when things don’t happen according to my time schedule.”

© 2009 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill johnniegaskill@gmail.com

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