The eleventh hour


How many times have you heard it said, “God moves at the eleventh hour”? That statement is both incredibly true and undeniably false.

How can I so obviously contradict myself?

Let me explain.

We often make the observation that God’s ways are not our ways. But just as often, we miss the equally important truth: God’s timing is not our timing.

And this explains the apparent contradiction. The time at which God moves is often the eleventh hour to us, but not to God.

Here is an observation I have made in my own life experience: God moves at the hour of our greatest desperation. To despair means literally (in Latin) to run out of hope. The moment we run out of hope in our own resources and ability is the moment we can enter into God’s resources instead.

Elaine and I have been planning a massive transition in our life from local church leadership to a wide-ranging ministry. We will live in and travel to various places to use the gifts God has given us to encourage and raise up leaders around the world and expand the capacities of local churches to understand and apply the Word of God. We will not slow down, we will ramp up!

That is exciting, but transition means leaving a place of relative security (though not without its own challenges), into something new. Our last transition was when we got on a plane thirty years ago to come to Canada with no money and no job, only the call of God to plant a church, and where it would be we had no idea. And by God’s grace, we did plant a church, a church in healthy condition we will certainly hand over to capable hands, a church whose best days lie ahead.

Where does that leave us? In a place of faith. And dependency. When things do not develop as easily or quickly as we thought, at first it becomes disconcerting, and then finally desperate.

But that is when God starts to work.

Will it be the eleventh hour before it all works out? It may be, at least to me. But to God, it will be nothing of the sort. It will be his perfect timing. It will be his opportunity to use challenging circumstances to cast me into a greater dependency on him. And by the end of the process, he will have shown me how he was using all those frustrating circumstances to develop and reveal his perfect will for us.

Next summer, by faith we will walk into a whole new phase of our life and service to God. God will provide for us in every possible way. When that happens, will I at last be able to say I have now arrived? No. I hate to say it, but there will be more eleventh hours. As long as I walk in the steps of faith and the way of the cross, God will use circumstances to bring me into that desperation that releases his solutions and causes him alone to receive the glory from what happens.

When you feel desperate, don’t give up!

It’s often the very moment God is about to move.

Peter was a man who lived all his life in the certain knowledge he would die a martyr’s death. What was his answer? “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares for you.”

As you face your eleventh hour, it’s pretty good advice to take.

He will not fail you.