Waiting for God.

16Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael. 1When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. 2Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” 3Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, 4“As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. 5No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. 6I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you (Genesis 16:16-17:6).

When we look at the life of Abraham, we see a man who had learned to wait. The end of Genesis chapter sixteen points out to us that Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael, but chapter seventeen tells us that nothing had happened for 14 years until God finally spoke to him again at ninety-nine years of age (Genesis 17:1). What can we learn from what is not written about that time?

Why do you suppose God made Abram wait so long? What work does God do in a person through making him or her wait? Some of the greatest lessons I have learned have been in times of waiting. God does His best preparation work in His servants in the waiting times. The prophet Isaiah gives us a picture of the preparation of a servant of the Lord:

Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. 2He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver (Isaiah 49:1-2).

For every servant of God called to do an important task for the Kingdom of God, there is a preparation time that is compared to the making of an arrow. There is a personal calling, then a preparation of what issues out from his lips, a cleansing of his language. He or she are also drawn close to the Lord, an intimacy under God’s hand before a polishing of his character.  And then, lastly, there is the concealment in the quiver. During this phase of training and preparation, a man or woman of God are not allowed to do anything that is “seen” by the world, at least for a time. He or she is called to be in hidden ministry that has to wait until the right timing to be shot in ministry from the Lord’s bow. Think of Moses and his having to wait forty years while shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep in the wilderness of Midian. God made him wait until he was eighty years of age before the Lord would use him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt. He definitely had to endure the hiddenness and waiting of the quiver!  Imagine how hard it would have been for him to be trained in the best schools of Egypt, and then do nothing seemingly of value while he shepherded the sheep in the desert. Why would God do that to a man? The greater the task, the greater the training. It is hard to wait for God’s timing, but it is part of the training. Keith Thomas

Are You Waiting on God?

Everything that Jesus did was one of modeling to us about how to live a Christ-centered life, even His waiting on the Lord’s timing. He lived a life of dependence on the Father. Sometimes it is hard to wait for God to move. We can be so eager to go and do God’s work that we can go without God. Moses, for instance, acted outside of God’s timing to help the Israelites in Egypt before he was ready, and had to spend forty years as a shepherd in the Desert of Midian before the Lord called him to bring the children of Israel out of Egypt (Act 7:23-30). There are things that God wants to do in us before He can use us. A.W. Tozer once said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until he has hurt him deeply.” I think that is so for nations too. The Chinese people have had to go through many trials and persecution until the kairos time, the defining moment has arrived for them to now send many missionaries to other nations, such as the Back to Jerusalem vision of going with the gospel to all the nations to the south and west of China bringing the gospel back to Jerusalem. Sometimes, just waiting on God’s timing can be painful. The worst thing that can happen to a man or woman of God is to be sent out in ministry before they are ready and prepared by God. There are many that have shipwrecked their faith because of going before God’s work had been done in them. We are to take the beam out of our own eye, before we can take the sliver out of someone else’s eye (Matthew 7:5). We have a picture of the making of a man or woman of God found in Isaiah 49:

1Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. 2He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver. 3He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor” (Isaiah 49:1-3).

Notice the work of God in shaping the man or woman of God. First of all, there is a calling on his life. From the womb God has been at work, calling him [or her] by name. One of the most important things that has to be shaped by God is a man’s word. A man’s tongue is to become a sharp sword that is to be Spirit-led and empowered of God. There is no room for coarse language or deceitful lips. Old habits of speech are put behind us now that we walk with the Lord. The picture that is used is that of the making of an arrow. It has to be made pliable in the hands of the arrow maker, and straightened on a rack. The process requires being polished which speaks of being rubbed the wrong way, and heat applied to the character before it can ever be used. Then the hardest part of the transformative work of God is to be placed in the quiver (A quiver is a leather bag used for carrying arrows on the back of the archer). The hardest part of being shaped and made effective is the period of time of waiting for the Master to put you into His bow to be fired at the time of His choosing. God wants to use all of His people, but more fruit comes from a life that is disciplined and brought under the control of the Holy Spirit. We are to walk in step with Him and not do our own thing, going out under our own power. Take the time to wait upon the Lord:

Wait on the LORD, and keep his way, and he shall exalt thee to inherit the land: when the wicked are cut off, thou shalt see [it] (Psalm 37:34).

Keith Thomas