God’s Timing: A Personal Journey
This article constitutes the first of two articles that will appear in the January/ February and March/April newsletters, respectively. Their importance in content requires a more thorough treatment than could be afforded in a single newsletter. It is my prayer that you will gain spiritual understanding in the process.
Probably, one of the most significant principles affecting the progress of Kingdom activities on the earth, especially in regard to the human participation factor, is our acknowledgement of, and response to, God’s timing, and not ours! This is best epitomized in the language of Solomon in the fourteen couplets of Ecclesiastes 3, and specifically, for our application, verses 1 and 11a: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time.” (Emphasis added) It seems this verse is saying that success in the work of the Lord can only be achieved in “its time,” or more appropriately, in His time! So, at the risk of sounding trite, timing is everything, and in Kingdom affairs, His timing is paramount!
Now before you get the idea that I am wandering off into the left field of irrelevance and running the risk of leaving you sitting lost in the dug-out without any inkling about the subject to which I am going to apply this line of thought, let me quickly tell you it is concerning CTF’s two-phase building of the Museum of Earth History in Eureka Springs. But, as is always the case in matters of this consequence, the $64,000.00 question is how are we to ascertain God’s timing in momentous matters such as this?
If we are not careful, direction about these kinds of decisions can easily be manipulated and contrived by the force of our will. But, for the sincere seeker of the Lord’s timing there are very discernable indicators in the Scripture that will always impart dependable guidance. Among these Biblical indicators are the divine directives found in Psalms 37:5; Proverbs 16:7; 18:16; and Acts 15:22, on which I painstakingly rely.
The following four areas deal with these directives, using the above mentioned references in their order of appearance: (1) The longevity of the vision, (2) Positive acknowledgement from the enemy, (3) Public recognition of God’s gifting, and (4) Unanimous agreement of our covering. In the first place, then…
The Longevity of the Vision
In Psalms 37:5, the inspired writer admonishes that we must “…commit our ways to the Lord, and trust in Him, and He will bring it to pass.” H. C. Leupold comments in his marvelous exegesis of Psalms, p. 301, that, “The original says, ‘Roll your way,’ the figure being: dislodge the burden from your shoulders and lay it on God, who has bidden you follow this course.” (Emphasis added)
In so many words, the psalmist is saying that God’s revealed intentions for our lives may require years of faithful pursuit before He can bring into fruition His purpose for our existence on this earth. Sometimes called the death of a vision, the Bible is replete with examples showing that God would often deeply inculcate into the heart of one of His youthful children a vision that required years of painful and necessary discipline to achieve. In most cases, the disciplinary process can be seen to be terrible misdirection, breakdown and failure—but either the steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord, or they are not!
However, it is this process as it is demonstrated in the lives of scores of Biblical characters, that constitutes a great deal of the Scripture’s content. And in each and every situation, it was the strength of the commitment born from the vision that provides the perseverance necessary for the man or woman to tolerate the discipline. Without these periods of testing, we would have never read about the spiritual successes of Abraham, Paul, Moses, Esther, or Timothy—to name just a few.
So it is the inspired writer Solomon who, having obviously experienced this same stringent training process himself, is now instructing us that we must, through the power of our commitment to the divine origin of the vision in us, trust God for its ultimate fulfillment. But this admonition, which includes difficult schooling, also comes with the promise that “He will bring it [the vision] to pass!”
It should now be plain to see that it takes an extended process of spiritual development, sometimes several decades, in the heart and life of a man or woman to appropriately prepare them to achieve a God-inspired vision (the length of this training is totally related to the spiritual sensitivity and the learning curve in the lives of the people involved in each instance—sometimes it takes more than one walk through the wilderness before we learn the intended lesson for the experience and we have to repeat the process).
But, let me reiterate, I am referring to a genuine God-directed vision, and not some fly-by-night, human contrived, speculative whim that is so often sold to the church as the “will of the Lord” every day or two. This kind of human contrived “direction” is never associated with the fruitful culmination of a long disciplinary process in which the lives of those holding the vision develop the Godly attitude, motivation and insight—all imperative—to handle the completion of a momentous vision. More importantly, a godly vision is entirely associated to God’s Kingdom restoration intention on the earth, and not the promotion of any particular human ministry—there is a big difference! There has never been the completion of a God-ordained vision on the earth, implemented by the hands of a man, without this God-directed training!
In this regard, the ministry of CTF has come through fifteen years of this refining heat produced by many disciplinary experiences (and we will experience more of the same), only sustained by the promise that the vision burned deeply within us was continually being developed and prepared (and in the process the vision has never changed). During this maturation process we are becoming increasingly aware that the Lord is in charge, and that He is the Mastermind of an overall plan for the restoration of His Kingdom on the earth, and that irrespective to any connection we may have in this process—all glory belongs to Him, and Him alone! Moreover, we realize that CTF is only a small part of a greater, worldwide team that is being divinely used to fill the earth with the “knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14), and our present participation in the building of The Museum of Earth History is a critical part of this process, as well as a vital part of our ultimate vision.
Positive Acknowledgement from the Enemy
Again I appeal to the wisdom of Solomon in Proverbs 16:7. In this verse he amazingly says that when a “man’s ways please the Lord; He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” To understand the meaning of this verse, I found it necessary to consult other Scriptural thinkers. In this referral, I found wonderfully interesting the comments that were written by one Rev. W. Harris, in the Homiletical Commentary on the book of Proverbs, p. 466. He said, that, “…a good man’s main desire is to conform his ways to the will of God—he is in sympathy with the mind of God, and his life is the outcome of that sympathy.” To this idea I must add a thought about Solomon’s use of the adjective “good” (2:20, 12:2, etc.). What constitutes a “good” man? I am going to let Solomon answer this question for himself.
After several readings of the book of Proverbs, it becomes quite evident that Solomon places great stress on seeking knowledge, instruction and wisdom from, and about, the LORD. It seems he epitomizes this idea by saying that the “fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7). And again in Proverbs 9: 10, he writes, that, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” Therefore, it seems, anyone involved in these pursuits is considered by Solomon to be “good.” Thus a man is good only as he seeks to know and apply the wisdom of God to his life. Goodness is, therefore, received or imputed from our association with the LORD, and not from any intrinsic goodness in ourselves. Borrowing from his thoughts in Ecclesiastes 12: 13, we begin to understand Solomon’s purpose for this idea. Here he says that those who “fear the LORD” will also obey Him and keep His commandments, which he says is the “whole duty of man.”
We see, then, that for a man’s ways to please the LORD, those “ways” must be defined by the knowledge and wisdom of the LORD, and as such, they will significantly seek to advance the ultimate, long-term plan of God: the recovery of the earth into the domain of the Creator God! It is about these kinds of people that Solomon said there would be times and occasions when their enemies would be peaceful with them.
Creation Truth Foundation has entered into such a season of acknowledgement—an acknowledgement from several media organizations normally considered liberal in philosophy and worldview. I don’t think the season will last very long; moreover, I am also questioning the true nature of the motive and the agenda of those from whom the acknowledgement came. But, it is nonetheless, a space of acceptance and promotion for Biblical values and concepts not normally a part of the present American society. Paul referred to a situation similar to this when he wrote to the church at Philippi, that,
Some preach Christ even from envy and strife, and some from good will: The former preach Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my chains; but the latter out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. (1:15-18)
I think it goes without saying that this recent recognition of The Museum of Earth History from the liberal media is partially the result of the recent Presidential election. Some may debate this, but it doesn’t take rocket science to see that an obvious mandate and an effectual open door to the ear and the heart of the American society was given to the Bible-believing Church, irrespective of the present liberal motive. We can either choose to strategically and perceptively walk through this door, and thus positively impact tens of thousands of people for Christ, or we can choose the ineffective procedures of the last two decades—the choice is ours! One fact is certain, it will be impossible to remain neutral in this matter.
This past December, just before Christmas, we received a call from the Boston office of National Public Radio (NPR). They had seen the article published in the special edition of the Economist, entitled, “The World In 2005,” January/March, 2005, and wanted to interview me about the opening of The Museum of Earth History on January 5.
Well, in the first place, none of our CTF team could believe it simply because the Economist is one of the leading economic journals in the entire Western world. Moreover, no one from our team knew anything about the article, its origin or its purpose.
Of course, you guessed it; I quickly went to a prominent magazine vender in an attempt to find the magazine about which the NPR representative referred. But, to my dismay, I couldn’t find anything about the Museum in the December publication of the Economist, and at that point, I dismissed the whole affair as a terrible joke. However, I was not aware of the special edition of the magazine, and that same day my daughter-in-law found one in a Mall in Houston, TX, and immediately called me. She told me what to look for, and, long story short, I found the magazine.
On page 27 of this illustrious journal, the following article appeared, under the title Dinosaurs in the Ozarks:
Were dinosaurs in the Bible or not? The Museum of Earth History, which opens in April 2005 in the quirky hamlet of Eureka Springs, Arkansas, will attempt to address this question. The museum will be the only one in the United States where the Earth’s history is presented in a literal biblical way.
Funded in part by Oklahoma’s Creation Truth Foundation, the museum will display nine full-sized dinosaur-skeleton replicas and propose the creationist theory that a pair of dinosaurs was on Noah’s Ark. Most scientists contend that dinosaurs became extinct millions of years before man existed. Not the museum’s founders. They insist that the confusion lies in the translation of the Hebrew word meaning “great lizard.” That word is found throughout the Old Testament.
If a museum of this sort is to open, no better place for it to exists. Before Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” became a blockbuster film, the annual Great Passion Play in this tiny Ozark hamlet, known for its new-age healing waters and arty citizens, attracted thousands of people from around the world. The two-hour outdoor drama, launched in 1968 to tell the story of Christ from crucifixion to ascension, is overlooked by a 67-foot ghostly white Christ of the Ozarks statue atop a mountain.
For the past few years, the Elna M. Smith Foundation [the governing body of the Great Passion Play] has created a virtual-reality Christian park, complete with a tram tour of the 50-acre New Holy Land, a 6,000 volume Bible museum, a sacred-arts center with ninth-century art and, oddly, a large section of the Berlin wall. The new museum [of Earth History] will draw an eager audience hungry for another slant on the bestselling book of all times. (Emphasis added), Suzi Parker, author
Is this an incredible article, or not? It is especially important to us because it was written and published without our participation or knowledge. We couldn’t have afforded the cost of this kind of publicity—a comparable article in this magazine would be at least $150,000.00. But, it didn’t end here.
The leading news agencies in Italy, Germany and Poland have also informed us that they read the Economist article and are going to publish articles in their various publications about the Museum’s opening and theme. As a matter of fact, the German organization is sending a special reporter to our office in May to interview me. Additionally, I am going to be interviewed two separate times in February by Dr. David Reagan over the DayStar Christian Television Network in Dallas, Texas.
The overwhelming feature in all of this is that when God’s timing arrives, and we’ve passed our spiritual tests, He will promote us to the place of vision-fulfillment, and cause even the secular community to peacefully promote its accomplishment. To God is the Glory!
G. Thomas Sharp, Ph.D.
To be continued in the March/April issue…