In the evenings, when my wife is cooking (which, to the benefit of the rest of us, is usually the case), she will ask the family to help out. That might mean setting the table, pouring milk for each family member, or bringing out condiments from the refrigerator. However, the response to her notifications is not always immediate. Other family members – including me – might be in the middle of something else (albeit not always something productive), or we might intend to come and help, but then get distracted before we get to the kitchen.
When my children and I are paying attention to her, if we need to wrap something up, the polite response is “Sure, I’ll be there in just a moment once I finish <fill in the blank>. It should only take a couple more minutes.” For those who actually want to eat dinner, though, one thing that we should not say when we are late to the table is, “Oh, you meant now?”
You may recognize the following passage from the story of Jesus’ birth, after the “wise men” (or Magi) visited Jesus, leaving Herod without a lead on someone who he (Herod) feared would supplant Herod’s throne.
After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up! Flee to Egypt with the child and his mother,” the angel said. “Stay there until I tell you to return, because Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod’s death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: “I called my Son out of Egypt.”
Matthew 2:13-15 NLT
Note the phrase, “That night”. Joseph didn’t spend a month winding down his business, and notifying his customers. He didn’t even take a few days to pack. I imagine him quickly collecting all of his family’s savings, organizing some clothes and food for the journey, maybe getting together some of his carpentry tools, and then loading them up on an animal before heading out.
It is understandable that he would do so, given the imminent threat to Mary’s child.
I don’t think that God had to tell Joseph the reason. That is, I suppose that God had the right to just tell Joseph what to do, and expect Joseph to follow His instructions, without an explanation. Still, I’m sure that Joseph appreciated the context. After all, Joseph’s life had already been turned upside down over the previous year or two.
In the same way, God doesn’t have to explain Himself to us. He has given us a huge amount of instruction and history, for us to both understand His nature and trust Him. So, let’s not get huffy if we have to trust God for something, even when we don’t fully know why.
Still, there are other times when followers of God receive clear instructions from God, and they stall. Maybe they really don’t want to obey God, so they are looking for a way out (or to find something that will “prove” a different message from God). Maybe they are caught up in other activities, and figure that God won’t mind waiting until they are done (see Luke 9:57-62). Maybe they aren’t really listening to God.
I don’t know what God has called you to do, today. Yes, God has given general instructions to the entire human race, but I can’t say what your purpose is for just today. When He shows you, though, don’t delay (unless that’s His direction). Get up and do what He asks you to do right away! Tomorrow might not be an option – waiting until too late to do what He asks might be the same as doing nothing at all.
You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God.
Hebrews 3:13 NLT
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.