As I was leaving Starkville on a recent Sunday to head for a preaching assignment in the Mississippi Delta, I was listening to a song called “Illinois,” by Dan Fogelberg. Just as the song ended, I looked ahead of me, and there was a car with an Illinois tag. How weird is that?

Out on the four-lane, I was thinking for some reason about the Toyota Land Cruiser. Just at that moment on the other side of the highway, one drove past. How weird is that?

On the way back, I was listening to a CD. I happened to look at the player/clock display just when the track in the machine was at 1:34, and it was 1:34 PM. How weird is that?

Of course, these are just strange coincidences that are fun to think about. But what if there were times, places, and seasons when things came together by intention and design? And not in a bad way, as in the movie line from “Sleepless in Seattle.” If you recall, Rob Reiner says: “What do you call that place where everything comes together?” Tom Hanks replies: “The Bermuda Triangle.”

Not in a bad way, but a good way, as in these scripture texts (emphases mine):

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).

“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…”( Galatians 4:4).

“…he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth” (Ephesians 1:9-10 ).

“For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

“In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:13-15).

The kairos of God, his “right time,” his “acceptable time,” his “fullness of time” is when he decides circumstances, setting, people, feelings, longings, needs are just right for his action. God’s right time can’t be forced, conjured, cajoled, manipulated or manufactured. Oh, we try. We go ahead and act instead of waiting on God. And the results might be good, but as Frederick Buechner once said, the good is sometimes the enemy of the best. Our preemptive action can rob us of the holy best.

Think of the most romantic moment of your life or some other time you would classify as “perfect.” What made it so? Probably lack of distraction. The surroundings. Something that happened the day before or earlier the same day that left you in a great mood. Maybe even smells, tastes, textures. And of course, if we’re talking romance, chemistry and mutual desire.

God’s timing is like that. He’s a cosmic romantic, planning and waiting for the perfect moment to give us a gift beyond imagining, to spring something on us that will delight us like nothing else, to grant us peace we could never have had outside his grace. Perhaps we will recognize how God worked only in hindsight, looking back over a series of events that could not have been coincidence. Maybe we will know it at the very moment when a relationship clicks or we get the job we want or the phone rings and there’s a longed for voice on the other end. Our calling is simply to be open to what God may do, to be ready to be “surprised by joy,” as C.S. Lewis put it.

I’ll tell you from experience: if we trust in God’s timing, he won’t let us down.

© 2007 by Tom Cheatham