Welcome to Doctor's Life Support, daily Bible readings for busy doctors...
About the fourth watch of the night he came to them... Mark 6:48
We all have a touch of the 'brinkman' about us, some more than others! Out of bed at the last possible moment -- toast munched, as we scurry down the corridor -- wet towel and black coffee as we swot in the all-too-short months before an exam -- midnight oil burnt for the report due yesterday -- the results not obtained, the X-rays not fetched, the investigations not done, that send everybody else, quite unfairly, into a panic-stricken fever of activity! O the misery to ourselves and the nail-biting anxiety of others of the vicious circle of 'never doing today what we can possibly leave till tomorrow!'.
Have you ever noticed how often God seems to act right at the last moment? Yet his brinkmanship is of a totally different order. He is never in a hurry, yet, in spite of our impatient apprehension, he is never late. His seeming delays are never because of a lack of care for us. It was because he saw their heavy going against a head wind that he came to them about the fourth watch of the night, walking on the sea (Mk 6:48). (Would we have left it until the morning?). How typical of us that they were surprised and frightened by his coming and nearly let him pass by without inviting him into the ship! It was the very night before Herod's proposed execution of Peter that the angel rescued him from prison. All honour to Peter's faith that he could spend his last night on earth asleep, chained to two soldiers (Acts 12:6).
Why does God seem to leave it so late before he intervenes? Is it that he can only act when we have exhausted our puny resources? Or that he will not share his glory with anyone else, and we and the world have got to see how he alone did it (1 Cor 1:28-29)? Is it to strengthen our faith in his unslumbering care (Ps 121:4)? Or perhaps to bless us more than we had ever thought possible (Jn 11:5-6, 15, 40)?
'In the fullness of time' -- his time -- 'God sent forth his son...' (Gal 4:4 AV). If he could do that at the right time, can we not trust him with the events of our lives?
Lord, teach me that sometimes you have to wait
until I have come to the end of myself
before you can bless me,
until I have finished trying my own plans
before you can show me yours.
Help me to recognise your perfect timing,
and to know that you will never let me down.
Further reading: Mk 6:45-51. Acts 12:1-11.