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Timing is Everything (My Book Writer's Club Entry)

Last Friday, we kicked off the 2019 season of The Book Writer's Club live at The Body Church in Decatur, GA and on Facebook. Our next meeting is Friday, May 24th, 2019. For that upcoming meeting, all writers are asked to present their book Introductions and Chapter outlines. If you plan on joining the club, don't get left behind. Complete a one-page book outline/ summary and email it to us at thebodychurchinc@gmail.com. See below for the introduction to the new book I'm writing alongside the other authors in the club.

I, the Teacher, was king of Israel, and I lived in Jerusalem. I devoted myself to search for understanding and to explore by wisdom everything being done under heaven. I soon discovered that God has dealt a tragic existence to the human race. I observed everything going on under the sun, and really, it is all meaningless—like chasing the wind. What is wrong cannot be made right. What is missing cannot be recovered.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-15 (NLT)

While growing up in church I heard The Word of God both directly and indirectly through sermons, songs, prayers, conversations and every other available form of communication. What I heard made sense to me in the context of my Christian reality so I believed what I heard. God answers prayer. Faith moves mountains. You reap what you sow. Givers prosper. Good things happen to those who do what is right in God’s sight. Every Christian is blessed and favored by God. The righteous never have to beg or be put to shame. God rewards the faithful. Wait on the Lord. I could go on and on.

I admit that, in some ways, I was idealistic to say the least, perhaps even naive. In my young mind, life was supposed to work a certain way and very rarely did things happen that shouldn’t. However, with adulthood came a bitterly cold dose of reality. I had to learn relatively quickly that life is full of contradictions. Good things happen to bad people. Bad things happen to good people. You don’t always reap what you sow during your lifetime. Some people live right and struggle through life while others live wrong and have it easy. Promotion is rarely simply merit-based. Your success in life is not necessarily a direct reflection of your level of effort, qualifications or even talent. You see, strange things happen in life and sometimes, we have no easy way to explain them.

Thankfully, King Solomon had the same epiphany during his latter years and that’s one reason why we have the Book of Ecclesiastes. With more supernatural wisdom than any other man to walk the earth outside of Jesus Christ, Solomon still could not understand why reality doesn’t always fit the universal principles of ethics, morality and overall fairness we commonly espouse. Life happens and we can’t control it. I find comfort in knowing that we live in a fallen world and because of that, everything is supposed to be messed up. Yet,, in spite of it all, I’m not hopeless and neither are you. My confidence is in God’s Kingdom which operates by His principles so, even though I live in this confusing world, I live within His Kingdom which is not of this world. That’s really all I need to keep moving forward.

This wisdom I have also seen under the sun, and it seemed great to me: There was a little city with few men in it; and a great king came against it, besieged it, and built great snares around it. Now there was found in it a poor wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that same poor man. Then I said: “Wisdom is better than strength. Nevertheless the poor man’s wisdom is despised, And his words are not heard. -

Ecclesiastes 9:13-16 (NKJV)

Apostle Paul was on to something in 1 Corinthians 13:9 when he said we know in part and prophesy in part. Typically, when I taught from this passage of scripture my focus was on the fact that people without money don’t have a voice. It was true in Solomon’s time and remains true now. The poor wise man delivered the city with his wisdom and then faded into the background for no other reason by his poverty. From all indications, city leadership listened to his solution because they were desperate. As soon as they received their deliverance they were done with the poor man. Does that sound familiar to you? It does to me.

Outside of elections, lawsuits, protests, criminal activity and charity, the voice of the poor tends to be ignored. People in poor neighborhoods can complain for years about unsatisfactory working conditions, substandard schools, inefficient Government services, unfair law enforcement practices or general neighborhood blight and get no response. While at the same time let something happen in a rich neighborhood and see how quickly the powers that be respond with solutions. It’s not right and it’s not fair but it’s reality. In fact, it’s human nature and it won’t change until humans change. Yet, God showed me that my perspective on Ecclesiastes 9:13-16 was quite narrow. He has much more to say out of that scripture and it starts with a few pointed questions.

How could the wise man be wise enough to deliver the city from dire straits but not wise enough to deliver himself out of poverty? Why did his wisdom work with such high stakes for everyone else but not in his own situation? I once heard a preacher say that he had the answer to everyone’s problems in the room. It’s pretty simple. He said to exchange problems with someone else in the room and you will instantly find solutions. Of course, he was being sarcastic but he did have a point. We always seem to know what’s best for someone else but don’t exhibit the same level of expertise for ourselves. We like telling other people what they should do to solve their problems but we don’t know what to do to solve our own. That’s ironic, isn’t it?

That same level of irony extends to the premise for this book and is again expressed by King Solomon through a passage of scripture in the Book of Ecclesiastes.

I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

Ecclesiastes 9:11(NKJV)

If this scripture is not the most misquoted scripture in The Bible, it’s definitely near the top of the list. Other than making up the word helpmeet by combining two distinct words in Genesis 2:18, assuming the word gift in Proverbs 18:16 means special ability and my personal favorite, separating the timing of the return of Jesus from the Resurrection after reading 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, I can’t find a scriptural misinterpretation more egregious. Instead of reading the scripture for themselves, I cannot count how many times I have heard intelligent, well-meaning Christians say the following; “The race is not for the swift, nor the battle to the strong… but for those who endure to the end.”

I’m sure there’s a good reason why someone made that up instead of sticking to the scripture. Like many other made up Christian sayings, it sounds good and it contains a principle that can be substantiated by a combination of actual scriptures if needs be. For instance, in Matthew 10:22 and 24:13 as well as Mark 13:13, Jesus said, in the context of the Great Tribulation, that those who endure to the end will be saved. You can then perhaps connect that with victory coming not by might, nor by power but by God’s Spirit according to Zechariah 4:6. However, that is not what Ecclesiastes 9:11 is saying and it is not even closely related to what that scripture is about. Take a look at it again in another translation.

I have observed something else under the sun. The fastest runner doesn’t always win the race, and the strongest warrior doesn’t always win the battle. The wise sometimes go hungry, and the skillful are not necessarily wealthy. And those who are educated don’t always lead successful lives. It is all decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.

Ecclesiastes 9:11(NLT)

Do you want to know the secret to success according to Ecclesiastes 9:11? Timing is everything. After all the wisdom of the Proverbs, life happened to King Solomon and he reflected on the irony of his observations in Ecclesiastes. One such observance he made was the importance of timing. Good things happen when people are in the right place at the right time. In other words, you can do everything else right and still fail if your timing is off or you can do everything else wrong but get your timing right and still succeed. Like I said earlier about how poor people are treated, it’s not right and it’s not fair but it’s reality. You can waste energy complaining about it, trying to change it or being a victim of it or you can choose to accept it and make it work in your favor.

I chose the latter option and that’s what this book is about. Natural ability, physical strength, wisdom, intelligence or skill alone don’t make you a winner. You have to be in the right place at the right time to take advantage of opportunities. It’s time (pun intended) for a mindset change. Don’t just think about what you need to do or how you need to do it to be successful. Think about when. Windows of opportunity open for limited periods of time and the people who jump through them reap all of the benefits. God is no respecter of persons according to Acts 10:34 and though He doesn’t give us equal resources, talents or even time, He does present us all with opportunities. Our failure or success is based on what we do when these opportunities are presented to us.

Let me say it again. Timing is everything.

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