Consider the importance of timing in the following story. Audrey Mestre was a world class free diver. Free diving is a sport in which individuals see how deep they can go underwater on just one breath of air. Without air tanks or breathing devices, divers hold tightly to a weighted sled that slides on a cable into the sea, plummeting them to record depths.
Audrey was competitive, and at twenty-eight years old she was determined to set a new world record depth of 561 feet. By comparison, the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City is 420 feet tall. Once at the bottom, Audrey would quickly fill an air bag that would speed her to the surface and fresh air. She had to hurry because she could only last about three minutes without oxygen before blacking out.
Audrey's timing, however, was off because something went terribly wrong. Bad weather on the surface caused the cable she was riding to the surface to bow. What's worse, the bag that was supposed to fill with air and shoot her to the surface didn't fully inflate. Audrey's rise to the top took much too long. After she had been under water for more than eight minutes, a rescue diver brought her body to the surface--a tragedy that would have been prevented had her timing been right (Thomas K. Grose, "Depths of Passion," U.S. News & World Report,16 August 2004, 80- 81).
God's timing, by contrast, is perfect. He knows all things (D&C 38:2). He knows what has happened to you in the past, what's happening to you now, and what will happen to you in the future. He also knows the answer to a question many of us have asked: When will Christ come again? (Matthew 24:36). Although no one else knows the day and the hour of the Second Coming, the scriptures help us understand a little about the timing of the Lord's return.
For example, "I come quickly," "nigh at hand," and "soon" (D&C 33:18; 43:17; 38:8) make it sound as if his second coming is close. But how close? According to D&C 110:16, his coming is "near, even at the doors." Wow! It sounds as if the Lord is on the world's doorstep and about to knock. But these verses were revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith more than 150 years ago. So do we really know how close the Second Coming is?
Let's look at a few more scriptures that might help us. In D&C 77:6, 12, 13, we learn that the temporal earth is seven thousand years old and that the last thousand years will be the Millennium, after Christ comes. In D&C 77:12, we learn that Christ will come at the beginning of the seventh thousand years. Our calendars place the beginning of that thousand-year period at about the year 2000. So why hasn't he come yet? According to D&C 77:13, there is a time between the beginning of the seventh thousand years and the coming of Christ. How long it will be? We don't know. All we know for sure is that
- Christ will come during the seventh thousand years.
- Christ will not come right at the beginning of that period.
- There will be a period between the year 2000 and his coming.
But then the concluding speaker stood up. The first words out of his mouth were, "I have calculated when the exact month and year of the Second Coming will be." If I remember correctly, he said we could expect Christ by the year 1997. Unfortunately, our investigators never returned.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come. Go and read the Scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers" (Teachings, 341).
The Lord says, "The hour and the day no man knoweth, neither the angels in heaven, nor shall they know until he comes" (D&C 49:7). We don't know exactly when Jesus will come. All we have is pieces of information, which the Lord has been gracious enough to share with us.
God is perfect in his timing. He knows the exact moment Christ will come in glory to save the righteous and destroy the wicked. Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote, "The time for the Second Coming of Christ is as fixed and certain as was the hour of his birth. It will not vary as much as a single second from the divine decree. He will come at the appointed time. . . . [Jesus Christ] knows the set time and so does his Father" (The Millennial Messiah, 26-27).
Elder Boyd K. Packer gave us some great insight into the time of Christ's coming. He said: "Teenagers also sometimes think, `What's the use? The world will soon be blown all apart and come to an end.' That feeling comes from fear, not from faith. No one knows the hour or the day (D&C 49:7), but the end cannot come until all of the purposes of the Lord are fulfilled. Everything that I have learned from the revelations and from life convinces me that there is time and to spare for you to carefully prepare for a long life" ("To Young Women and Men," Ensign, May 1989, 59).
What great counsel! Prepare for a long life, and fill yourself with faith, not fear. We live at such a great time, with great things to look forward to. God knows your heart, and as you carefully live a life of faith and hope you will be ready for the coming of his Son.