Pastor Derek Irvine, Board Vice President
Associate Pastor at Vernon Advent Christian Church
My family and I have lived in the area for six years. We moved here from the mountains of Virginia after serving at a wonderful church for the previous five years. My wife and I, both from New England, are enjoying being back and serving the Lord here where the Gospel is needed so desperately. Over the years, I became acquainted with the work of Branches through our church’s partnership with, and support of, the Center. I attended the banquets and participated in the annual baby bottle drives. Last year I was given the opportunity to join the board. I consider it a privilege to serve the Lord, and the community, in this capacity.
Recently, in a Bible Study that I help lead, we came across Matthew 15:21-28 and the story of the faith of the Canaanite Woman. In the story, Jesus and his disciples leave the area of Galilee and travel to the district of Tyre and Sidon for what seems to be a time of rest and to get away from the crowds. A “retreat” if you will, for Tyre and Sidon are both located on the Mediterranean Sea! When they arrive, a woman approaches Jesus and cries out to him in desperation, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon (vs. 22, ESV).” Through her persistence, Jesus commends her faith and heals her daughter.
Now, there is a lot we could glean from this text regarding persistence in prayer and crying out to Lord in our time of need. Or even the fact that we find another instance where Jesus has recognized the faith of a Gentile and shown her mercy revealing to us His message of the Kingdom was not just for the Jews. What struck me the most from this story was God’s timing.
Timing is a funny thing. Too often we go throughout our day performing seemingly mundane tasks without giving any thought to the fact that God has ordered our steps (Ps. 37:23) and is using everything, both good and bad, to bring about His glorious plan of redemption (Rom. 8:28). The amazing thing to me about this passage is this woman, who lived 40 miles from the regions in which Jesus was teaching and performing miracles, recognized Jesus as the Messiah, referred to him as “Son of David,” and knew that he could heal her daughter. This suggests that at some point in her past, either she or somebody she knew, had seen Jesus or had heard about him. And now, in her time of need, Jesus “just so happens” to show up in her hometown. We refer to times such as these as God appointments; times when God orchestrates events in our lives in such a way that we are led to encounters with Jesus. I’m sure we can all think back on our lives and find times when God ordered our steps, lead us to himself, and continued to grow us in our relationships with Jesus.
There is truth to the saying, “Timing is everything.” As a matter of fact, I was first asked to consider joining the board of Branches a few years ago, but the “timing wasn’t right.” And now, here I am with the opportunity to serve the Lord in this wonderful way. What about you? What has God been putting on your heart lately that you put off the first time because the “timing wasn’t right?” Or maybe, like the Canaanite woman, God has been leading you to this very moment, putting the right people on your path, to encounter Jesus and step out in faith with him. Either way, it’s all in God’s timing.