Worth Waiting

Recently I read through the book of 1 Samuel and it once again captured my attention. One of the things that stood out to me was God’s responses.

Hannah’s story in chapter 1 seems to set the course for the whole book. In chapter 1 she’s pouring out her heart to God, asking Him for a child and God heard her and gave her Samuel. But not all of God’s responses are what the people wanted to hear…

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the nations." But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." And Samuel prayed to the LORD. The LORD said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them. Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought them up from Egypt even to this day--in that they have forsaken Me and served other gods--so they are doing to you also. Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them." 1 Samuel 8:4-9 NASB

Over and over in 1 Samuel we see God hearing and responding to His people—collectively like this passage and individually as we see David repeatedly inquiring of God and receiving answers. God has not changed and in thousands of years between God speaking to Samuel here and us. He still hears His people and He still answers. The Creator of the universe, the One True God who is Holy and just hears us when we pray. Too often I think we forget this or think that He doesn’t hear us because we don’t get an immediate sense that He’s answered. Sometimes we act like spoiled children and demand what we want, what we think best, and sometimes God gives us exactly what we want, knowing it wasn’t His best. It seems that’s what is happening here.

Were they wrong in asking for a king? I don’t think so, because way back in the days of Moses God talked about when they would have a king (Deut. 17:14-20) and even before that, Abraham was promised that kings would be his descendants, but I DO think their motivation for wanting one wasn’t what it should’ve been. Israel was asking for a king to lead them out in battle, like all the nations around them had (1 Samuel 8:19-20). Status quo and security mashed together and led them down a path too early and for the wrong reason. Unbeknownst to Israel the king God had in mind was in training, but they couldn’t wait. They wanted what they wanted and they wanted it right then. So God allowed them to have exactly what they wanted. Saul. A man who looked like a fine king but who didn’t live up to his potential. Throughout the book of 1 Samuel we see that what Israel got wasn’t what they planned on—someone to lead them against their enemies—but it was exactly what Samuel warned them about.

This has me wondering. What have I been asking God for? What’s the motivation behind my asking? Status quo? Security? Greed? Comfort? Maybe there’s nothing wrong with what I’ve been asking for, but maybe it’s not the right time for it. Have I been impatient, refusing to wait and repeatedly asking (pestering!) for something?

My granddaughter was here a little while ago and really wanted an apple off the tree in our yard. She remembered eating them last year and was excited about them again. When she asked me for one I told her no because they weren’t ready yet. After asking a couple more times and getting the same answer she found an apple in her reach when I was inside the house. I came out just in time to see her face when she bit into the apple. Instead of the expected sweetness it was sour and inedible. Yikes! What a reminder.

God hears us when we pray and ask for things and sometimes His answer is Wait. Waiting isn’t fun, but it’s better in the long run.

Father God, please shape and mold my desires so they align with Yours. Help me patiently wait for the things You have planned. You know best and I want Your best because it's so much better than anything I could ever dream up. Thank You for hearing me and caring enough to say No or Wait when it's needed.

The Awkwardness

This morning our pastor started a new series on ReEngaging Relationships and he talked about how it can be awkward to resume meeting in our small groups and churches. How we can become comfortable with social distancing. I have to admit. I can relate. I’m such an introvert that I’m very comfortable, too comfortable, being by myself. It’s easier to fade away when I’m by myself. It’s easier to slip into disobedience and apathy by myself. By myself it’s easier to think that what I should be doing doesn’t really matter. But it does.

You see, I’ve been in this position before. Many times. I’ve felt that God has called me to things, given me specific things to do and I’ve not done them. I’ve chickened out. The awkwardness of restarting, of walking back in to a place I used to be all the time has pushed me away. I’ve been here, gone through all the emotions, and all the other times I’ve ended up walking away. Because of the awkwardness I’ve felt, because of the fear, the knowing that I’m not enough, knowing that I’ve failed repeatedly. So, I wrestled with God this morning. I want to obey. I want pick up this thing He’s set before me. But I’m a chicken and this awkwardness is…beyond awkward. It’s uncomfortable.

After wrestling I took my first baby step at reentry. Moments later, actually, right after that last paragraph, Pastor Michael finished his sermon and my ear picked up on his closing prayer (I had already listened to the service once and was tuning in again) and I turned up the volume on the TV so I could join in on the worship, one more time today. But Pastor Michael nor God were not finished with me yet. This is what I heard that had me laughing and sobbing at the same time…

As we respond to God’s Word, I challenge you… It’s worth it. What God desires to do in you is profound—better than you can imagine. Better than it’s ever been. We’re not going back. We’re going forward. And I challenge you to refuse to slide into a place of apathy. I challenge you to refuse to slide into a place that feels like comfort, but actually it’s unhealthy. Let us commit, even while we’re social distancing, to continue to engage, to fight through the awkward as we worship together and as we work hard to find ways where together we follow Him. Together we experience all that God has for us. May YOU receive His challenge, His comfort and that truth of the Gospel today. (Pastor Michael Nave, Cornerstone Church, Marion, IL July 12, 2020.)

Did God hear me when I was crying out to Him in my journal this morning? YES. Does He hear you when you cry out to Him? YES. What is it that you’re putting off because it feels awkward? Is it attending church? Going to your small group or Bible study? Is it doing what He’s called you to do?

I challenge you… It’s worth it. What God desires to do in you is profound—better than you can imagine. Better than it’s ever been. We’re not going back. We’re going forward.

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