Sarai had a problem with waiting. She found it quite difficult to keep persevering in the promise God had for her and her husband, Abram. Abram was promised a son that would not only come from his own body but from his wife’s as well. However, in the waiting, Sarai devised a plan to run ahead of God and get an heir for her husband’s estate. She asked Abram to sleep with her slave girl, so they could produce a descendant to carry out the line of Abram’s family. While this was culturally accepted, it was not God’s will for Abram and Sarai.
Waiting is a difficult position to live in. It requires an unnatural quality that people do not have. We are an immediate gratification brood, indeed. And all the more so for those who live in America where immediate gratification can actually be obtained. But then there is God, who can thwart this very ability in our easy-to-obtain society. He can hem in on us from behind and before. Like the besieging of a city in battle, God can close off all escape routes that thwart his plan to make us wait and persevere in the waiting tabernacle of grace. After all, in the waiting for God’s promises, we do experience his most precious gift – his grace. His grace holds us back from having now what will be better if we wait for it. This can either lead us to pout, give up and fall away from God, or we can pray – pray without ceasing.
Knowing us so well, God scrutinizes our going out and our lying down. He is familiar with all our ways. He knows what we need and when we need it. His plan is broader and bigger than what we even ask for. In God’s plan, he wants to bless us with all of his favor; but because we are an impatient people, we often are willing to settle for the lesser blessing. Why? We hold the immediate gratification higher than the will of God – which is called idolatry. The lust of our flesh causes us to settle for the good and not wait for the best. In our settling, we may leave our situation gratified for the moment, but we will also be left longing for the greater favor. The “what if I had waited” question will plague us forever.
When Isaac was finally born to Abram and Sarai, I wonder if Sarai had that question rolling in her mind, “what if I had waited.” Or the regret, “I wish I had waited.” For now she had to deal with a problematic step son and a jealous slave girl. Often, the problems in our life are results from choosing to move ahead of God, instead of simply waiting on him.
In hindsight, I am grateful for the times that God intervened and made no escape route possible for me when all I wanted to do was move forward. He said, “No” and made me wait. I don’t always understand his timing, or his plan, but I do know this: his delay and the waiting bring a better blessing!
In the waiting period, God is doing two things: by prayer, he draws us into closer relationship with him and by scrutiny; he sifts away our choices and decisions so we can have his. These go hand in hand with each other. The closer we are to God the more our desires become his.
Andrew Murray says on the act of persevering prayer, “Above all God wants to draw us into closer fellowship with him. When our prayers are not answered we learn that the fellowship and love of God are more to us than the answers of our requests, and then we continue in prayer” waiting for his plan. Amen! It’s the relationship that grows from the waiting period. But God also sifts…
With intense pressure, He sifts us during this time. Referred to earlier, I reiterate Psalm 139:3, “You (God) scrutinize my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.” During the waiting period we also experience scrutiny, meaning that God sifts away at our own choices and decisions refining his purpose in our hearts. He prepares us for the answered prayer when the timing is right. The timing is only right when our desires are his desires. To prune away the chaff, it takes cutting, fire and waiting. If we have the answer to our prayers before his purposes enter our hearts, we can squander the blessing and make a mess of the gift, just as Sarai experienced.
Wait on the Lord for his due timing. He will answer your prayers! Walk along this journey with him and patiently learn as you go down today’s path. He will teach you. He will guide you. He will bless you. Wait, I say it again, wait for the greater blessing and allow him to scrutinize you and sift away the lust to have now.
Genesis 16; Psalm 139:1-12; 1 Thessalonians 4:17