Summary: This is a sermon about waiting for God’s guidance and direction through prayer and not running ahead of Him.
Waiting on the Lord
Usually I am a patient person. During Christmas Breaks from Asbury College in 1968 and 1969, it was my privilege to work with my friends V. G. and Mary Buckner, owners of the Gospel Book Store in my hometown of Marion. In 1968 a lady came in from Energy Baptist Church looking for gifts for her Sunday School Class. I spent about an hour with her making recommendations, one by one which she rejected, before finally making a decision.
When she left, the Buckners and their other full time employee said, “We are so glad you had her as your customer. She is always a very difficult person to please, and you were so patient with her.”
That was not the case, however, this past Tuesday when I had to pick up two prescriptions for Sheila at the Mt. Zion Wal Mart Pharmacy. I had submitted them earlier that morning. I did not owe anything; all that I needed to do was sign the receipt. Only one other customer was ahead of me in line; therefore, I thought I’d be out of there in no time at all which I needed to do. I had to make a hospital call on John Berry and then go to Springfield for a meeting that evening. I was on an extremely tight schedule with no room for delays.
As it happened, the gentleman ahead of me took his “merry time.” He wrote a check for the total amount of his three prescriptions, and he insisted he must write the prescription numbers for all three of them on the on his check. He had a hard time deciphering the numbers correctly and required the continuous guidance of the pharmacy technician each step of the way. I thought I’d never get out of the pharmacy department, and my stomach just kept “churning, churning, and churning” while I endured what seemed to be an “endless, needless wait.”
None of us like to be kept waiting, but God’s Word keeps calling us to “Wait on the Lord,” to “wait patiently for Him.” We have the promise of Isaiah 40:30-31:
“Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
“Yet those who wait for the LORD
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.”
God is not on our fast paced time schedule, and we should neither rush Him nor run ahead of His plan for our lives. We need to become a people who truly “wait upon the Lord.”
God has always taken His time in working with His people. Noah preached repentance for 100 years to his neighbors while he patiently obeyed God in building the Ark. The rain lasted for 40 days and 40 nights, and the waters did not subside for another 150 days; the Ark then rested on the mountains of Ararat for approximately three months; Noah then waited at least another 40 days before sending out the dove for the first time. He waited another week, sent out the dove again; and this time the dove came back with an olive leaf. He waited another week and sent out the dove a third time, and the dove did not return. Noah then removed the covering of the Ark and saw dry land, but it was still another month before God invited Noah to “Come out of the Ark.” Over 101 years had passed between God’s calling Noah to build the Ark and his families’ departure from the boat. Noah knew what it meant to “wait on the Lord.”
Abraham also learned to wait on the Lord, although in between times he often “messed things” up by trying to take matters into his own hands. Abram, as he was originally named, was a fatherless 75 year old man and his wife Sarai a 65 year old barren woman when God first called him to “leave his country” and promised His servant that He would “make him a great nation.”
Abram was 86 years old when Hagar, Sarai’s Egyptian handmaid, gave birth to his son Ishmael. This was one of those “mistakes” Abram made in not “waiting for the Lord” to fulfill His promise. Instead he followed the human advice of his wife Sarai, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her” [--Genesis 16:2]. The great missionary to China J. Hudson Taylor once said, “Quiet waiting before God would save from many a mistake and many a sorrow” [--J. Hudson Taylor, quoted in Men of Integrity, Vol. 4, no. 3.]. If Abram had simply “waited on the Lord,” much bloodshed in the Middle East could have been spared throughout world history including in Iraq and Afghanistan today.