Timing matters. The successful life isn’t just about doing the right things. It’s about doing them at the right time.
Isaiah was grateful that God had given him a good sense of timing in his prophetic responsibilities: “The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season unto thee, O house of Israel.” (2 Nephi 7:4, see also Isaiah 50:4).
In the Allegory of the Olive Tree, the Lord of the Vineyard demonstrates a remarkable sense of timing. He makes changes including grafting the branches from one tree into another. Then he gives the trees time to adapt to the changes before checking on their progress. He repeatedly expresses his hope to “lay up fruit against the season” (Jacob 5:13, 18, 19, 20, 23, 27, 29, 31, 46), which I interpret as a keen awareness that his final objective is still in the future. Near the end of the parable, he ratchets up the activity, recruiting additional laborers, because “the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh” (Jacob 5:71). His success is partly a function of his sense of timing.
We all experience this reality on multiple levels. We pass through seasons of life, in which some activities must take higher priority than they will at other times. We obviously adapt to the seasons of the year, both in terms of weather patterns and in terms of corresponding societal norms. The beginning of a new school year, for example, affects many of us. We also have to be attuned to the natural rhythm of the day. Which activities are best performed first thing in the morning? At what points do we need to focus on projects and avoid distractions? At what points do we need to avoid becoming too entrenched in projects so that we can be available to other people? An awareness of these dynamics can make our lives easier and help us avoid unnecessary frustration.
When Elder Gerrit W. Gong discussed the rich diversity of our individual stories last April, he said, “I trust God. I believe ‘[we] are, that [we] might have joy,’ that there are times and seasons to everything under heaven” (“We Each Have a Story,” General Conference, April 2022).
Today, I will strive to adapt to the natural rhythm of the day, of the year, and of my current season of life. I will remember that some good things are appropriate to do now, while others may have to wait for another time. I will strive to develop the attribute of patience, so that I will be willing and prepared to do everything in its proper season.