There's an old saying that, 'When God made time He made plenty of it!' And of course this is perfectly true. But with God, I would suggest that timing can be even more important than time. And hopefully this will be borne out by the following true story concerning Dr Helen Roseveare, a missionary serving in a remote region of Africa...
One night a mother died giving birth to a tiny premature baby. She also left a 2 year old daughter broken-hearted. Now, although this particular medical outpost was on the Equator, nights could be very cold, and of course this baby needed to be kept warm. Sadly they had no incubator, in fact they had no electricity. But worse was to follow. Just as a young nurse was filling the last remaining hot water bottle... it burst. Rubber perishes easily in tropical climates. So using their own body heat the nurses managed to keep the tiny baby alive throughout the night. But what were they to do for the next night, and the next, and the next? There were no shops in the jungle!
Next day Dr Roseveare took prayers with some of the orphanage children. And in giving them topics to pray for she mentioned the hot water bottle and the baby's 2 year old sister who was so distressed because her mummy had died. With characteristic bluntness 10 year old Ruth prayed that the Lord would send a hot water bottle to them... and they needed it today! After all the tiny child might not survive another night. And while He was at it, would he please send a little dolly to help cheer up the baby's sister. Well, Dr Roseveare knew that nothing was too difficult for the Lord, the Bible says so, but a hot water bottle arriving that day... well, surely this was a 'bridge too far'. And even if a parcel were to arrive that day, who would send a hot water bottle. They lived on the Equator!
Later that afternoon, during a nurses training session a message reached her to say that a car had arrived at the front of her house. But by the time she got there it had gone. However, the driver had left a large 22 pound parcel. Excitement was mounting. Hurriedly but carefully the cardboard box was opened and she took out various items of knitted clothing for the children, bandages for the leprosy patients as well as packets of food. But then, as she put her hand into the box once more, she felt it... could it really be? She grasped it and pulled out... A BRAND NEW HOT WATER BOTTLE. She cried. She knew she hadn't had enough faith to believe that God could actually do this.
By this time the children had joined her, and on seeing what was happening Ruth rushed forward saying, 'If God has sent the bottle, He must have sent the dolly too! Rummaging down to the bottom of the box, she pulled out a small, beautifully dressed dolly. Her eyes shone! She had never doubted. Looking up at Dr Roseveare she asked if she could give the dolly to the little girl so that she'd know that Jesus really loved her.
Now, how did all this happen? Well, it was subsequently discovered that this particular box had been in transit for FIVE MONTHS! It had been packed by Dr Roseveare's former Sunday School class back home, whose leader has sensed and obeyed God's prompting to send a hot water bottle... even to the Equator! And one of the girls had put in a dolly for one of the little children, 5 whole months in advance of the believing prayer of a 10 year old African girl who had asked for it to arrive, 'that afternoon'.
So, is timing more important than time? Well, when we realise that God is not constrained by the concept of time, as we understand it... that He actually stands 'outside' time... then even the most unlikely of scenarios is possible to Him, as this story shows. After all...
'With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.'
2 Peter 3:8