“Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.” Some people seem to live their lives with this attitude. They are passive and just try to deal with what happens to them. They hope that, once in a while, they will be in the right place at the right moment, and something good will come their way. But most of the time, they feel helpless and powerless.
Others seem driven to make things happen. They feel responsible to take initiative and make something out of the opportunities around them. They always feel impelled to move out in the direction that seems it might lead to something good, even if it makes better sense to stay where they are right now.
In the 2016 movie The Founder, (check out the trailer) Ray Kroc (played by Michael Keaton) is fascinated by the speed with which the MacDonald brothers are able to prepare hamburgers at their small roadside restaurant in San Bernardino. He has spent his adult life selling various products door-to-door, while he is also constantly coming up with new schemes to chase the American dream of financial success. When he sees the hamburger production line in action, a light goes on. For the next two decades, through the 1940s and 50s, he can’t stop until he owns the patents and controls the franchise, building the MacDonalds Golden Arches into an internationally known symbol of America.
Early on, his wife confronts him about the fact that he secretly mortgaged their house to buy into the brothers’ company. To her this is just the latest of his hare-brained ideas that is destined to fail, but he says confidently, “For once, I’m gonna be right on time!” And he was — this time, after hundreds of failures.
Some of us are more like the stopped clock passively waiting to be “on time” twice a day. Others are more like Ray Kroc, grabbing at perceived opportunities, believing that, finally, we’ll be “right on time.”
God can and does use both kinds of personalities. He honors those who wait quietly for a moment of service, always ready, but never anxious.
However, he also knows how to direct the impulses of the dreamers who are impatient to make a difference in their lives and in the world. There are many examples of stopped-clock people and of right-on-time people in the Bible, throughout church history and at Altadena Baptist Church.
However, both types of personalities should re-examine themselves often before the Lord. Passivity is not always a virtue and stopped-clock people often miss God-given opportunities that are right in front of them. On the other hand, right-on-time people tend to think their initiative makes all the difference, so they may be crushed by failures and may take undue personal credit for successes.
Here are some perspectives on God’s timing from the Bible that may help all of us adjust our personal clocks to his:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: He has made everything suitable for its time. . . Moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11)
Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31)
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord. (Lamentations 3:25-26)
“It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” (Acts 1:7-8)
Do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. (2 Peter 3:8)
— Pastor George Van Alstine