Words and Music Roberta Wilburn and C. Aaron Wilburn (2000)
The news came to Jesus please come fast.
Lazarus is sick and without Your help he will not last.
Mary and Martha watched their brother die
They waited for Jesus- He didn’t come.
They wondered why.
The death watch was over; buried four days.
Somebody said He’ll soon be here
The Lord’s on His way.
Martha ran to Him and then she cried
“Lord if You had been here- You could have healed him. He’d still be alive.
But You’re four days late; and all hope is gone.
Lord we don’t understand why You’ve waited so long.”
But His way is God’s way.
It’s not yours or mine
But isn’t it great when He’s four days late- He’s still on time!
Jesus said, “Martha, show Me the grave.”
But she said, “Lord You don’t understand- he’s been there four days!””
The grave stone was rolled back.
Then Jesus cried, “Lazarus! Come forth!”
Then somebody said, “He’s ALIVE! He’s ALIVE!”
Right know you may be fighting a battle of fear
You’ve cried to the Lord “I need You now!” But He has not appeared.
My friend don’t be discouraged
Cause He’s still the same.
He’ll be right here and He’ll roll back your stone and He’ll call out your name!
When He’s four days late and all hope is gone
Lord we don’t understand why You’ve waited so long.
But His way is God’s way it’s not yours or mine
But isn’t it great when He’s four days late- He’s still on time!
Oh my God it’s great when he’s four days late….He’s still on Time!!
This modern song was written by Aaron Wilburn who makes his living as a comedian. He is also a former member of the Happy Goodmans, Christian Comedian, and Southern Gospel songwriter. You may have caught him at a Gaither Homecoming or…You may even know some of his jokes… (There was a lady who made the nicest pies with the neatest crust patterns— achieved by taking out her false teeth and pressing their pattern into the pastry!)
But this gentleman is a musician with the heart of a poet—his song writing has brought him Dove awards and Grammy nominations and his home state of Alabama honoured him with an exhibit in their Music Hall of Fame, along with Jake Hess and Vestal Goodman.
Aaron Wilburn is most known for his Southern Gospel classic of the year 2000: Four Days Late. The song was composed by “Roberta Wilburn(wife to Aaron) and C. Aaron Wilburn himself.” Others have sung it, including Aaron himself, but the most notable rendition seems to be that by Karen Peck and New River. Karen was asked if she gets tired of singing Four Days Late but her reply was, “I will sing that song until the day the Lord calls me home.” Again, it was Aaron himself who said to her, “You need to record it.” Three months later, when she actually did record the song, she says that after the piano intro and she sang out the first line, “The news came to Jesus…” she knew and even the drummer said, “Boy this is a powerful song.” To summarize the message of the song:— God’s time is the right time!
Some thoughts about the song:
Your wreckage can turn around even if it seems that it’s too late. Jesus is standing at the entrance of the grave of your hopes and dreams. Listen as He calls them from the tomb! He may be four days late, but He is still on time!
Your situation may seem hopeless. It might even seem dead, buried and beginning to decompose. Jesus has not shown His power and strength. All seems lost. You stand in sorrow and confusion. Questions enter your mind.
There was a time when Jesus was four days late, but He was still on time! Lazarus was dead and beginning to decompose. All hope was lost. Everyone had given up as the family had laid him to rest. Then Jesus came. He was four days late, but He was still on time.
Lessons from the story of Lazarus
What a terrible stink must have come from the grave of Lazarus who had been dead for four days before the days of modern embalming procedures! How many of you have ever passed near a dead animal on the highway? Can you remember that smell? It’s a smell that is unforgettable.
Lazarus, a good friend of Jesus, was dead. Jesus had been notified to come quickly by Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, but he didn’t seem to get in a hurry. The news of his sickness was no surprise to Jesus; neither was it troublesome to Jesus that Lazarus would eventually die and be buried. Jesus continued to do his teaching and working for two more days before he started for the home of Lazarus in Bethany.
Lazarus’ name meant “assistance of God”, pointing to the fact that, no matter where we live, we live only by the help of God. We have no power to do anything without God’s help.
He lived in the town of Bethany which means, “the house of song; the house of affliction”. I don’t know about you but I can certainly identify with needing God’s assistance and singing the blues, crying out to God and living in a place where there is affliction on every hand. Everywhere you turn in this life there is sickness, pain, death, depression, discouragement and constant trouble.
Job certainly knew what he was talking about when he spoke those words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Job 14:1, “Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.”
How many of you are living in the place of affliction right now? Have you lived a day in your life without trouble on every hand? Do you find yourself “singing out to God because of those afflictions”? Has Satan caused a stink to arise in your life and made things seem so hopeless that there doesn’t seem to be any possibility of getting your prayer answered?
WE ALL HAVE OUR BETHANY! No one is immune to the attacks of Satan or the troubles and trials of life.
Have you noticed the attitude of Jesus as he heard the news of Lazarus’ sickness? He knew that Lazarus was dying but it didn’t seem to affect Jesus at all. He just kept doing what he needed to do. Jesus wasn’t upset in the least for he already knew what was going to happen when he reached Bethany. He already knew that there were no impossible situations and that his power to speak resurrection was not limited by any circumstances.
I think it would help us greatly to realize that our seemingly hard or impossible circumstances are nothing to God. His power transcends our trouble. His power is not limited by our faithlessness or our hopelessness. Jesus has resurrection power and he cannot only bring victory when we haven’t given up hope, but he is just as able to bring us the victory after we have long given up hope.
When it seems that our finances have already died and the stink is beginning to arise; when it seems that our health is completely gone and the doctors have given up on us; when it seems that God has waited too long and the stink of our unbelief, distrust, and hopelessness rises; that’s when He is on time.
Here is what I have learned after all these thoughts:
- God’s delay is a perfect timing for us.
- God allows/permits us to suffer circumstances for a while for the greater good. In every delay, He has greater reasons than what we could ever think of. Not because the answers to our prayers don’t come on time doesn’t mean He loves us less. It is always for our good. We shall see that our seemingly unanswered prayers and disappointed hopes have been among our greatest blessings.
- He is an amazing God…He is always on time!