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Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, February 2

But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then Jesus also went up, not publicly but in private.
—John 7:10

Wouldn’t you love to have an innate sense of timing, knowing when to act, when to withdraw, when to speak and when to remain silent? The Jesus of the gospels is a many-faceted person, and one of his most valuable traits is an exquisite sense of timing. “He knew that his hour had not come,” is the way the author of John’s gospel puts it.

The above quote is from a story about Jesus’ brothers who have urged him to go to Jerusalem during an important festival. Jesus was becoming well-known in the rural areas of Galilee as a teacher and healer, and the brothers think it is time for him to get greater exposure, especially in Jerusalem, the most important urban city of that time. But Jesus refuses, saying to them, “My time has not yet come.”

I wonder: what does it take to know when the time is right, for acting, or speaking, for taking on more or doing less, for knowing when to take a new job, or move to a new city? As the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes puts it, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Remembering that the foundation for Jesus’ life was his relationship with God and that he regularly withdrew from people to pray and reflect gives me an idea of how I might reorder my own life, so that I have a better sense of timing. It might also give me the grace to be still, to go about more in "private" than in "public," and thus to live each day with greater peace.

Gracious God, grant me the wisdom to know when to be still, the courage to act when we should, and the insight to know the difference.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2007.