Articles From Our Bulletins
Waiting for God
“Waiting for God” was the name of a British sitcom airing on Public Television from 1990 through 1994. The show was set in a retirement home and featured an unmarried couple of spirited “pensioners” who lived next-door to each other, and constantly gave the management of the facility fits. The title was surely a sarcastic swipe at their present lot in life- “Waiting for God” was about all they had left to do, but it surely didn’t keep them from wreaking havoc on staff and fellow residents alike! This article is certainly not about the show, but the title got me to thinking about the trouble we often get into while impatiently waiting for God…
Abraham and Sarah. Abram was seventy-five years old (and Sarai was sixty-five) when God promised him that his family would become a great nation, cf. Genesis 12:2; 17:17. As the years dragged on, and God’s promise was yet unfulfilled, Abram and Sarai grew impatient. So, after what surely must have seemed like an eternity of waiting, Abram’s first attempt to help God out was to suggest that Eliezer, the eldest servant born in his house, could become his heir. But God rejected this plan, “This man will not be your heir; but one from who shall come forth from your own body, he shall be your heir,” Genesis 15:3-4. About ten years pass. Now Sarai- bless her heart, tires of waiting on God, but has an idea to help Him. God said that the heir would come from Abram, but didn’t exactly say that he would come from her body. So she proposes that Abram take her handmaid, Hagar, to wife and bear children through her. Abram consents to the plan, and a son, Ishmael, is born. But God rejects this plan, and although He promises to multiply Ishmael’s descendants, He implores Abram to “Walk before Me, and be blameless,” cf. Genesis 16; 17:2. Finally, after twenty-five years of waiting on God, multiple attempts to circumvent God’s plan, and even serious doubts that it would ever be fulfilled (see Genesis 17:17-19 and 18:11-15), Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah, Genesis 21:1-3 ... just as God promised. Though they didn’t like it, and even tried to help God out, eventually Abraham and Sarah had enough faith to “wait for God,” and were blessed- both with an heir and with the inheritance of faith, Romans 4:18-22!
King Saul. The Philistines, the archenemies of God’s people at the time, had assembled 30,000 chariots, 6,000 horsemen, and “people like the sand which is on the seashore in abundance” for war. God’s appointed king for Israel, Saul, had 3,000 men, cf. 1Samuel 13:1-5. As Saul waited the appointed seven days that Samuel, God’s prophet, had specified in which he would come and offer sacrifices and tell Saul what the Lord wanted him to do, his army trembled and began to dessert and scatter, cp. 1Samuel 10:8; 13:6-7. Saul decided that he could wait no longer, and sacrificed the burnt and peace offerings himself- which was a violation of God’s Law. Then, “as soon as he finished offering the burnt offering, that behold, Samuel came,” 1Samuel 13:10. Though Saul went out to greet him as if nothing was wrong, Samuel immediately said, “What have you done?” Saul tried to explain why he forced himself to make the sacrifice, 1Samuel 13:11-12. But Samuel wasn’t buying his excuses, and replied, “You have acted foolishly; you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure,” 1Samuel 13:13-14. Saul could have had it all, if he had only been patient and waited for God a few more hours! Instead, he lost it all- the kingdom was taken from him and he was replaced with a man after God’s own heart, David.
So, what’s the take-away from “waiting for God”? There are a couple salient points we need to get:
- God can tell time and read a calendar, but is eternal- so His perspective of “time” is more than a little different than ours. Everything in our world seems to be bound by time. But God is Master of the Universe, and is not so bound, cf. 2Peter 3:8-13.
- God never does anything too soon or too late. Consider that “when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). He was “the testimony borne at the proper time” (1Timothy 2:6). God knew exactly when “the consummation of the ages” was (Hebrews 9:26), and acted precisely then. Remember, God doesn’t operate on our schedule; we must operate on His. So, “wait on the Lord…” Psalm 27:14; 37:34; Proverbs 20:22!
Therefore, stop trying to “help God out” in fulfilling His purposes for and through you, and be faithfully patient as you trust and obey. It took twenty-five years for Abraham and Sarah to learn this lesson- how long will it take you? And from King Saul, never give up on God- He will always do exactly what He said, when He said. Don’t fret; don’t fear; and don’t think you have to force yourself to violate God’s Law because He isn’t acting in your life when you think He should! Be patient. Trust Him. Be faithfully obedient. He’ll take care of the rest.