Note from Eric: Here’s a great story about God’s timing, and how His timing produces much more fruit in the end than our timing ever could. If you’re waiting for some of the things that God has put on your heart to come to pass, I hope this story will encourage you to keep trusting Him and keep praying for His timing.
HIS TIMING IS PERFECT
by Rebecca Livermore
As the German pastor shared his vision for a time of reconciliation between Germans and Jews in the Olympic Stadium in West Berlin, I could barely contain myself. What he planned to do was unprecedented, and my sense was that God was clearly in it. When he gave the Macedonian call to “Come over and help us,” it was all I could do to keep from being catapulted from my seat! I wanted to say, “Yes! I’ll come!” After the service I made a beeline toward this pastor.
When I got home from church, I read and reread information he gave me; the more I read, the more excited I became. I could just picture myself in the Olympic Stadium, worshipping and proclaiming Jesus together with people from every nation.
An incredible thing began to take place in my life, something I had never experienced before; I began to truly intercede for this pastor, for his family, and for the planned event. I prayed like I had never prayed before, often waking up in the middle of the night, with an overwhelming compulsion to pray. God impressed Scriptures on my heart to pray for the pastor, the church, and the people in Berlin. I just knew that God had something special for me in Berlin!
Unfortunately, I was a single, 19-year-old girl, without the resources (namely money) to make a trip to Berlin. But that didn’t worry me. God was so clearly in me going, that surely He was going to make a way. After all, with God all things are possible, right? But when it came close to the time of the rally, and I still didn’t have anything more than a dream, I had to accept the reality that it wasn’t going to happen. My dream had died.
I took this to the Lord in prayer. I didn’t question His goodness or love for me, but I couldn’t understand why He gave me such a passion to go to Berlin and then slammed the door in my face.
I found the answer in the pages of Scripture. Romans 1:8- 13 was God’s specific, clear, unmistakable answer to the question of my heart. It reads, “First, I think my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world. For God is my witness, who I serve with my spirit in the gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established – that is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.”
Those words were written by Paul, but they could have been written by me! How I prayed for these people! How I wanted to find a way in the will of God to come to them! How I longed to see them! And just like Paul, I had been hindered from going.
When I read the words, “That I may impart to you some spiritual gift” I sensed the Lord speaking to me, “Rebecca, there will come a time when you will go to Berlin, but if you go now, you will be going with nothing to impart to the people there. You will go in the future, and when you do, you will be going with something to impart.” That was my answer, and I gladly embraced it.
I kept praying for the people of Berlin and for this local church pastor. God regularly impressed Scriptures on my heart for him, and I began writing them down and mailing them to him. In my letters, I didn’t tell him anything about my passion for the people of Germany, or of my unfulfilled desire to go to Berlin. My letters were totally focused on his ministry, and what I felt God was prompting me to pray for him.
Rather than dissipating, my passion and burden for Germany increased, so much so that I decided to take some German language courses. In passing, I mentioned this in one of my letters to the pastor. He wrote back, “If you want to learn German, the best way is for you to come here. If you’d like to do that, I can arrange for you to stay with a woman in my congregation.”
Wow! This time the money was in the bank, and I’d have a free place to stay. How exciting! So, about a year after my initial desire to go to Berlin, I found myself on a plane, headed to Europe. Amazingly enough, I had forgotten all about the passage of Scripture in Romans and God’s promise to me, but God had not forgotten. He was faithful to do what He had promised.
Shortly after I buckled my safety belt on the plane, the passage in Romans came back to me. I prayed, “Oh Lord, you said I would go with something to impart, but what do I have to impart to the people of Berlin? I have nothing! I know nothing! I have no speaking engagements, and no one even knows of my desire to minister. The pastor just thinks I want to learn German. God, is this a mistake?” Mistake or no, there was nothing I could do about it; the plane had taken off and I was on my way to Berlin.
A few days after my arrival, Sunday rolled around, so of course we went to church. By German standards, the church was huge, with approximately 1000 people. From across the sanctuary, I noticed a woman staring at me. This continued off and on throughout the service. I had no idea who she was, but I was determined to talk to her after the service. But when the service ended, the woman I was staying with introduced me to people around us, and by the time that finished, the “mystery woman” had disappeared.
Later that week, I was invited to go to the church to help with mailing out a magazine the church produced. Shortly after arrival at the church, I ran into the mystery woman who had been staring at me during church. Come to find out, she was the children’s education director at the church – which was exactly what I did in my church in California. After chatting for awhile, she asked me if I would like to go to a teachers’ training meeting that night. I agreed to go. After the meeting, she asked me if I would be willing to speak at another training meeting two weeks later.
The next week, the pastor came to have coffee with me and the woman I was staying with. I told him about my plans to speak, and he asked, “Who will interpret for you?” When I replied, “Gertraud will interpret for me,” he said, “Oh, let me interpret for you.” I agreed, even though I was a bit intimidated by him; he was known internationally, and I was just a 20-year old girl who until then had never even been away from home, much less out of the country.
This was my first time working with an interpreter, but he had done it many times and was very good at it. It was as if he knew what I was going to say before I even opened my mouth. More significant, was an incredible awareness that God was with me as I spoke, and that He was truly using me as a vessel to impart His truth to the people there. It went very well, to the point that afterwards the pastor said,“Would you be willing to share this same thing with the entire congregation?”
Things took off from there, and I spent the rest of the summer involved in various aspects of ministry in the church in Berlin. After I returned to the States, I continued to stay in touch with the church, and the next summer God brought expansion to my ministry by opening the doors for me to speak in churches in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and France.
My plan was to go to a huge rally, and sit in a crowd, with thousands of other people, as a spectator, more than a participant. That would have no doubt been exciting, but God’s plan was better. My desire was to sit in a stadium, but His desire was for me to minister everywhere from a huge cathedral in a big city, to a quiet retreat center in the Swiss Alps. His vision was much bigger than mine ever could have been. Doors of opportunity opened for me as I waited on the Lord for His timing and direction.