the shape of leadership

God’s Waiting Room

Delay is not denial

Duane Durst on January 5, 2018

Have you been praying for an answer that hasn’t arrived? Are you waiting for a promise that seems unfulfilled? Even as a new year begins, does it feel like you’re lingering in the same place, still looking for a breakthrough? Take heart. God hasn’t forgotten you. You’re in His waiting room, and He is already at work in your situation.

God’s waiting room may be the most important space we encounter in life. It’s where God tests our commitment and grows our faith. It’s where we prepare for the next leg of the journey. As we wait on the Lord, we learn and experience trust.

Habakkuk 2:3 says, “But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, don’t despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue by a single day!” (TLB).

James 1:2–4 reminds us of the benefits of patience and perseverance: “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (The Message).

How we emerge from God’s waiting room is dependent on our attitude. Jonah’s waiting room experience was one of the toughest. But unfortunately, Jonah didn’t allow God’s lessons to make a lasting change in his heart. Jonah felt he had the right to direct his own life. Though he was sorry for his initial disobedience, he justified holding a grudge. Even after three days in fish slime, he remained bitter.

Sometimes God puts us in the waiting room against our will to give us an opportunity to change. But He doesn’t force us to do what’s right. Jonah preached a message of judgment, and the nation repented. Yet Jonah remained angry and resentful.

Waiting on God requires us to put aside our way of doing things and trust His timing and plan. Abraham was 100 when he finally held Isaac, the son God had promised to send (Genesis 21:5). Joseph, clinging to God’s great promises, spent years in prison and endured one difficulty after another. Yet he remained faithful, rightly believing that God would accomplish His purposes through all the trials.

The Blessings of Waiting

There are benefits to being in God’s waiting room. First, waiting brings renewal. In the waiting room, we become stronger. According to Isaiah 40:31, “they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (ESV).

God loves us enough to give us what we need rather than what we want. Sometimes waiting is the best thing for building our faith.

Second, we come to realize that God’s timetable is not our timetable. We must understand that time does not limit God’s power. To Him, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8).

We view time in a linear fashion, like the yard markers on a football field, but God sees things from the end zone. He sees all time at the same time. From God’s eternal perspective, the 700 years of silence between Malachi and Jesus’ birth are a brief pause, and the years of Israel’s seemingly endless captivity are a blip on the radar of time. When we grasp this truth, we cannot justify anxiety (Philippians 4:6).

Waiting on God requires us to put aside our way of doing things and trust His timing and plan. 

Learning to Wait

Waiting for what God has promised does not negate the reality of the promise. The life of David provides a great example for us. David was anointed king over Israel in 1 Samuel 16, when he was a teenager. However, he didn’t become king over the two tribes of Judah until he was 30. And it was nearly 18 years after that before he gained the kingship of all of Israel. All told, he waited nearly 30 years for the complete fulfillment of the promise.

Some of us can hardly wait two weeks or even two days. God gives us a promise, and we look for it to happen right now. Yet God’s plan takes time! He daily prepares us to receive the promise. It’s not that God is not ready; He’s getting us ready.

We must be sure of God’s calling and direction, regardless of circumstances or naysayers. When I was in Bible college, my hall advisor suggested I go back to engineering school because he didn’t think I could cut it in the ministry.

We can’t always see what God has in store for us in the future, but if we wait on Him, He will bring His promises to pass.

While we wait, we can pour our lives into others. At Ziklag, David invested himself in mighty men of valor (1 Samuel 27). Instead of moaning about the fact that he wasn’t yet king, David invested in others who believed in the plan and vision God had given him for the nation.

Don’t try to alter God’s timetable. The human tendency is to try to make things happen on our own instead of just saying, “God, I’m going to keep moving and doing, and you direct my path. I’m going to trust you for what you promised back there, to bring it to pass up here.”

David twice had the opportunity to kill Saul and assume the kingship (1 Samuel 24; 26). But he wisely refused to try to take by force what God had promised.

Of course, waiting isn’t always uneventful. In fact, we will often encounter persecution while waiting. It happened to David when Saul tried to kill him (1 Samuel 19).

It’s hard enough to wait, but it’s even harder when we’re under attack. Yet persecution comes when we serve the Lord (2 Timothy 3:12). God calls us to do what’s right before Him, regardless of the cost. We can trust Him to order our steps and provide for our future. True peril begins when we try to protect ourselves and leave His covering.

Are you in God’s waiting room right now? Has God promised to do things in and through you? Commit these promises to God, and do what He’s called you to do today.

When trials and persecutions come, remain faithful to God. Know that God is on both sides of the struggle — where it starts and where it ends. He will take care of you and work out the details. Trust Him, and don’t try to mess with His timing.

Refuse to listen to voices that tell you to walk away and forget about God’s promises. God has a timetable and a plan. Be faithful.

Remember that delay is not denial. You’re in God’s waiting room. And He’s at work!

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