WAITING ON GOD MEANS ALWAYS BEING ALERT, READY, AND PATIENT 2 of 6 | HOWARD GOLDTHWAITE
Waiting on God means to remain in a constant state of readiness even when nothing seems to be happening. We must be ready to hear from Him, to obey Him, to spring into action to serve Him. We must always be ready and available to follow or serve on His timetable – not merely our own.
In his book Waiting On God, Wayne Stiles gives us many good perspectives on what waiting on God is all about. “Waiting on God seems passive. It feels like we’re sitting in the ash heap with poor Job, scraping ourselves with the shards of our broken life. On the contrary, waiting is a very active part of living. Waiting on God, if we do it correctly, is anything but passive. Waiting works its way out in very deliberate actions, very intentionally searching the Scriptures and praying, intense moments of humility, and self-realization of our finiteness. With the waiting comes learning. I can’t think of much I’ve learned that’s positive from the times I’ve plowed ahead without waiting on God.” (Wayne Stiles, The Waiting Place, 86,87)
Jesus taught this famous parable about waiting and staying ready: “Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)
A great example of refusing to serve God by waiting on His timing is found in 1 Samuel 8, where the Israelites demanded to the prophet Samuel that God give them a king. “Give us a king like all the other nations have.” (1 Samuel 8:5b NLV) They wanted to be like all the other nations, whereas God wanted them to be different from all the other nations. They wanted to blend in, whereas God wanted them to stand out. Nevertheless, God granted their demand, but gave them a king who was an exact mirror of their shallow, be-just-like-everybody-else, spiritual condition. God gave them Saul, who always seemed to have the same opinion as the last person he talked to.
A great example of being willing to serve God by waiting on His timing is from 1 Samuel 24. Before David became king, he was pursued by Saul, who viewed David as a rival to the throne. Even though the prophet Samuel had promised David that he would one day replace Saul to become King of Israel, David was willing to serve God for many difficult years by waiting for God’s timing. One day, while David and his men were running for their lives and hiding in a dark cave from Saul’s 3,000-man hunting party, who happened to come walking in all alone? Saul himself! David’s men whispered to him, “Today is the day,” and encouraged him to pounce, but David knew that if God made a promise, He would also keep it. David wisely and graciously spared Saul, which gives us some insight into why David was God’s choice to later become King of Israel.