Immediately Is Misleading

(6 min read)


I think the word “Immediately” is misleading. Like, when you are waiting on someone, and they say, “I’ll be there immediately”, but you know good and well that means they are still probably getting ready and haven’t even gotten in to their car yet. I’m not bitter, I promise. I’ve just seen it happen too many times. Now I just pester them, “Exactly how long? Have you left your house yet? Is it long enough for me to run and grab Starbucks? What does your GPS say?” I do that because the word immediately is a relative term. For me, it means instant, for others, it’s just thrown around and used interchangeably with the phrase “As soon as possible”. Am I alone in this?

And to be honest, it’s hard to read books of the Bible like Mark, because he uses the term so frequently. I know that many scholars and other “smart people” say Mark was a “to the point” kind of person, but was everything literally immediately?

I needed to do some research for myself.

So, I found out that In the NASB, which currently holds the reputation of being the most accurate translation of the Bible, the word “immediately" is only found 6 times in the Old Testament. It is found 100 times in the New Testament. Out of those 100 times, 96 of them are used in the gospels and Acts. And within in the gospels and Acts it is far and away found the most in the gospel of Mark at 39 times. The next closes is Matthew and Acts both at 18.

This can be boggling in a time where we WANT everything to be immediate. We want our coffee to be made immediately. We want our web pages and facebook to open immediately. We want our successes to come immediately, and we want our shortcomings to be forgotten immediately.

So, why did Mark use this word so often? Was everything actually immediate? I take issue with this because sometimes it takes a LOOOOOONNNNGGG time for God to act “suddenly”. We read about and hear stories of God healing people in an instant both in modern times and biblical times, but I think we often forget the months or maybe even the years that they had been praying for that breakthrough. Today’s culture has embraced an instant and NOW mentality, and sometimes we forget the importance of being persistent and our Biblical mandate to not give up when the going gets tough.

Here’s some more interesting information:

The word immediately is translated from the Greek word “euthys”. This translation of the Greek is the exact word that is used for every time “immediately” is seen, but it’s also the Greek translation for other words that are seen in the book of Mark. The word “euthys” is 15 times more likely to be found in the book of Mark than any other chapter in the New Testament. The first time that this word shows up is in the first book.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, "Behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way, the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight [euthys].’"(Mark 1:2-3)

As we see, the first translation of the word euthys, most oftenly translated as immediately, is translated to the word “straight”. Common translations throughout Mark of the word euthys are "at once”, “immediately", and “straight". It can even mean words such as direct, by the straight road, of going straight forward, level ground, right, upright.

Here’s where it gets interesting:

In regards to time, euthys does mean immediately or at once. But, euthys has an underlying moral meaning as well – straight, right, upright, and level. In fact, in the Greek, euthys is a compound word. Euthys is made up of “eu", which means good or well, and “ heo", which means to place. So, in its most absolute sense, euthys means "well placed”.

Many scholars believe that the book of Mark is actually Peter’s accounts and reminiscences of Jesus, with John Mark being the writer. If that is true, then this all makes sense, because Peter knew that God’s timing was absolutely perfect and well placed. Remember the perfectly placed rooster crows after his 3rd denial of Jesus? (Sorry Peter, I know you’re tired of hearing about your downfalls.) Peter knew God’s timing was well placed, but also that God’s timing is very different than ours.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you…2 Peter 3:8-9

Here’s where I’m trying to go with all of this. Many of us believe that if God is in something, it’ll work out immediately and perfectly (and by this, I mean perfectly by our standards and how “we think” it should go. It always works perfectly in God’sstandards.).

We know from Revelation 13 that from the foundation of the world there was a plan for Jesus to be born and crucified. And yet, even though Jesus was the plan of salvation all along, there was no room in any AirBnB(ethlehems) for Him when Mary gave birth. You would think that for the birth of our Savior, God’s one and only son, there would at least be some kind of a reservation for Him somewhere…

And what about Lazarus? The dude got sick and Jesus was supposed to already be there to heal him. Jesus didn’t show up in time, according to Mary and Martha, and Lazarus ended up dead. According to Martha and Mary, if He would have done it in their timing, “immediately”, things would have been “perfect" by their standards... but Jesus had a greater miracle waiting.

In promises and plans, there will be challenges, and things may not go perfectly in our eyes. They won’t look exactly how we would think, and they may take longer than we desire, but God still has a greater promise for you. You must continue to persevere.

Mary Anne Radmacher said it well, “Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”

Whatever you’re having to endure, push through and don’t give up. When things don’t go like you think they should, and it looks like they are getting more difficult, press in and keep going. It may mean that you’re headed in the right direction. Christine Caine said recently, “When a shadow is cast, you’ve gotta know that light is there, but sometimes you are in the dark part of the shadow and you can’t see the light. The very existence of a shadow proves that light IS THERE.” The light may be just around the corner of where God has you now. Keep doing what God asked you to do, even if it feels like it has been for years, until He gives you something new. Press into the promise.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing, persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… For all things are for your sakes, so that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:8-9,15-18

Faith grows when we trust God and don’t give up. Grace abounds when we don’t give up, and as seen in 2 Corinthians 4:15, grace spreads when we don’t quit. God is close. A.W. Tozer said, “We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts.” He is closer than the fears, frustrations, persecutions that we are experiencing. Cling to him. Persevere through the persecutions and trials, press into the promise, and pursue his presence.

In my life, I’ve always been more comfortable with the timing of things when I’ve been intentional with getting into the presence of God. I promise if you get in to his presence and press in to his promises, you’ll begin to be more aware of his closeness, and trust his “euthys", well placed, timing.

Do you have a story where something you thought would be immediate took longer than expected? How did it end up being "well placed"? Drop it in the comments below 👇🏼