One example of God empowering individuals to change the trajectory of their life is the Civil Rights Movement. While many would say the timing was not ideal, leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. realized that things would not get better with time; they would only get better when individuals used their time to advocate for the change they desired. In 1963, a group of clergyman wrote to the African American community describing Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) actions in Birmingham, Alabama (also known as Bombingham, Alabama in 1963), to be “unwise and untimely” and suggested that things would get better with time. Dr. King responded to this correspondence with an eloquent defense on his non-violence philosophy and explained why African Americans could not wait for “time” to bring about change. King wrote in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, “Such an attitude stems from a tragic misconception of time, from the strangely rational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills. Actually time itself is neutral; it can be used either destructively or constructively. More and more I feel that the people of ill will have used time much more effectively than have the people of good will.” King understood that African Americans could not wait for a better “time” or for someone else to come in “time” and change their plight. No, they had to use the power and time God had given them to march for justice, stage sit–ins, and even rest overnight in jail. If they had waited for time to bring about a change they would’ve been another generation to fall victim to their circumstances due to the “misconception of time” as well as a lack of belief in the God who makes the impossible possible when we put forth an effort.
Another example of God empowering an individual to change the trajectory of their life is recorded in John 5:1–9. There was a lame man who had been a resident at the pool of Bethesda for thirty -eight years waiting for an angel to trouble the water at a certain season (time). For thirty-eight years he had been stuck in one place. He had been hanging around the same place and people for thirty-eight years. He was in a prison with no bars!! One day Jesus was passing through this miserable place and asked the man, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6, ESV) The man proceeded to give Jesus excuses for why he had not been healed. The final excuse the man gives the Master is it wasn’t his time yet because someone always steps in the water before him. Jesus then gives an unexpected reply to this lame, miserable man. He doesn’t offer him any sympathy, instead He gives him three commands, “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” (John 5:8, ESV). What I love about Jesus is He will not give you an imperative that is impossible for you to perform. He tells this man that he has been given the power to change his situation NOW. People would have told him, “Your season is coming.” Jesus told him, “Your time is NOW!!” The man followed the commands of Christ and experienced wholeness. Yes, his life was changed when he embraced the power Christ had granted him.
Does this describe you? Are you sitting idle waiting on time to bring about a change in your circumstances? Maybe you are waiting on someone else to save you from your situation. Remember, God will not do for you what He is calling you to do for yourself. You must recognize the power God has given us through His grace to be agents of change. You have the power to change time, at least aspects of your future. The conclusion of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is quite encouraging, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20, ESV). Embrace the power at work within you and courageously be that agent of change in your life, your community, and your world to the Glory of God.