Today’s reflection on Mary and Elizabeth stresses the unexpected nature of their pregnancies, for different reasons. For Elizabeth, it must have seemed that it was too late to hope for a child. Mary may well have hoped for a child, but not yet. But babies don’t wait for anyone, and nor does God.
It got me thinking about timing with regard to vocations. I’m thinking here not just of vocations to ordination or other types of recognised ministry within the church, but vocation in it’s broadest sense of being called to the thing God intends us to do and be. I thought of friends and colleagues who have found their vocation late in life, after decades of wondering what God’s purpose for them could be, and perhaps doubting at times if he has anything in mind for them at all. And I thought of children I know who have a clear sense of God’s calling on their lives even before they can articulate it, and whose vocation is often dismissed by adults because they are “too young”. And then there are all those somewhere in between, myself included, who have discerned a vocation which is not what they would have wished at the time they would have chosen, but is still somehow undeniably the right thing to do, however disruptive or counter-intuitive it seems.
God’s timing is a mystery, and so often so different from ours. But that’s because he can see the whole picture, while we have only a snapshot. And that’s why we have to trust him, to rely on him, to put the pieces together in the best way, when we can’t even begin to imagine what the finished picture will look like.