God’s Time or Man’s Time
When the Lord delivered me from a vast army, I wasn’t aware it marked the end of the first leg of my amazing journey in Christ.
So at the beginning of the new year, I set out with the same mindset as I had before: to work and provide for my family.
First, I reminded myself of my priorities to keep me from being enticed by the world. These priorities limited my options. After exhausting all my remaining options, I realized if I would adhere to these priorities I’d be left with nothing.
“It’s impossible the Lord would leave me with nothing.”
He was silent.
I waited. Each day seemed like weeks and weeks passed like it was forever. I didn’t know if I felt discouraged, frustrated, or hopeless. I considered waiting as inactivity therefore unproductiveness, and therefore a waste of time.
Maybe God’s silence means I should use my brain and do something. I would love to resolve the matter on my own though that would mean compromising my priorities.
During my Bible reading, I was reminded of three characters who needed to wait but did not.
Abraham and Sarah
In Genesis 15, God promised Abraham descendants of his own. Abraham and Sarah waited, and waited, and waited for the promised offspring. After they had been living in Canaan for ten years, Sarah remained barren.
They became impatient and took matters into their own hands. It says in Genesis 16:
1 Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian slave named Hagar; 2 so she said to Abram, “The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my slave; perhaps I can build a family through her.”
Abram agreed to what Sarai said. 3 So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian slave Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. 4 He slept with Hagar, and she conceived.
When she knew she was pregnant, she began to despise her mistress. 5 Then Sarai said to Abram, “You are responsible for the wrong I am suffering. I put my slave in your arms, and now that she knows she is pregnant, she despises me. May the Lord judge between you and me.”
6 “Your slave is in your hands,” Abram said. “Do with her whatever you think best.” Then Sarai mistreated Hagar; so she fled from her.
16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.
They rushed God’s plan and “helped” Him accomplish His promise in their own way and timing, in their own limited understanding, which made the situation complicated.
Sarah gave her maidservant, Hagar, to her husband. Abraham passively agreed to his wife. Just as they planned, Hagar conceived but disobedience has consequences. Hagar despised Sarah, Sarah blamed Abraham, Abraham avoided his responsibility and told Sarah to do whatever she thinks best, so Sarah mistreated Hagar, then Hagar ran away pregnant.
Their impatience shows lack of trust in God’s sovereignty and power to do what He promised. This only resulted in marital strife and strained relationships.
The promised offspring came 14 years after this incident, or a total of 25 years from the time God called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. We find in Genesis 21, God did as He promised:
1 Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. 2 Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him.3 Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. 4 When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. 5 Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
Nothing is too hard for the Lord. God’s promises are not dependent on men but on His faithful character. He has His own way of accomplishing His plans according to His own time.
With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 2 Peter 3:8Tweet
Another passage that really struck me was 1 Samuel 13.
Israel went to war against the Philistines. With the Israelites having only a total of 3,000 men versus the Philistines with 3,000 chariots, 6,000 charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore, outnumbered is an understatement.
Their situation was critical and their army was hard pressed. All the troops with King Saul were quaking with fear.
The Israelite soldiers gathered together and waited for Samuel, the prophet, to arrive to make a burnt offering to God. Every day they waited increased the chance the Philistines would attack and Israel didn’t want to go to war without seeking God’s favor.
They waited and waited. Samuel said he would come in seven days but he did not come and the men began to scatter.
So Saul took matters in his own hands and made a burnt offering to the Lord even with a clear instruction from Samuel to wait and clear instructions from the Lord to the Israelites that only priests or Levites were allowed to make offerings and sacrifices to God on behalf of the people.
Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived.
Saul wanted to seek God’s favor before going to battle but he did it by disobeying His commands. He made a decision based on their circumstance and the fearful soldiers around him, not on the clear instructions of the Lord, thus his kingdom did not endure.
What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)Tweet
Trusting God’s Timing
It is difficult to wait and “do nothing” especially when we are troubled or worried. We tend to resolve our problems based on our limited knowledge and understanding instead of trusting God who is all-knowing, sovereign, and faithful.
Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD and turn away from evil. (Proverbs 3:7)Tweet
God wants us to inquire of Him in everything. And we inquire of Him not just for the sake of asking but with an earnest desire to obey exactly what the Lord wants us to do.
Obedience first requires attentive listening or waiting on God’s instructions, then being fully compliant and submissive to what was instructed.
Not all waiting is waiting around like one would in line or doctor’s appointment.
Waiting on God is not passive but active waiting — actively seeking, trusting, and preparing for His will.
It is a beautiful season to fully trust and be patient in God’s plans and timing, not on our limited knowledge or strength nor in our circumstance. A time to learn from the Lord, to focus on His character, and be certain that He is in control [not us].
Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5-6)Tweet
First published on February 11, 2017. Rewritten October 2019.