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Timing it right

"... men who understood the times and knew what Israel should do..." 1 Chronicles 12.32

This description is applied to the tribe of Issachar, which rallied with representatives from the other tribes throughout Israel, to support David in his campaign to replace Saul as king. Each tribe is afforded a brief accolade. In the men of Issachar the gift of good judgment is recognised. This doubtless proved useful to David and saved him unnecessary loss and frustration.

Recently my brother-in-law and one his sons completed an expedition from Fort William to Nairn in sea kayaks. They made excellent progress over the vast bulk of the 115k route. But the last few kms took a disproportionate amount of time, as they turned into the Moray Firth and were hit by a combination of high winds and rising tide. Eventually they made for the shore and waited for tide and wind to slacken, before completing their journey.

There is wisdom knowing when to proceed and when to hold back. Just because God is in control and he has unlimited resources does not mean his followers should charge around expecting everything to fall into place. In pioneering the spread of the Gospel beyond Palestine, the apostles learned the importance of being attuned to the Holy Spirit, of learning when to proceed and when they must alter their plans.

Every army, every movement, every church needs people "who understand the times and know what to do". Yet that gift is within reach of all of us, as we learn to trust God rather than leaning on our own understanding. That trust must find further expression in the discipline of prayer. And just as important is the willingness to listen for the Lord's answer, rather than assuming that, because we have blurted out our petition, we can assume that God will bless our intentions. It doesn't work that way. The blessing comes in discerning the Lord's will and pursuing his intentions.

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