When I was in the Army, a common motto was "hurry up and wait." We were required to appear at a destination immediately, but inevitably waited a long while once we arrived. Of course, this trend was very annoying and, if nothing else, taught us that waiting seems, at best, impractical. Had we made the most of our waiting time, our efforts to arrive early would have been practical and made sense; but since we often did nothing while waiting, we reasoned that we would have been better off arriving at the last possible minute.
Perhaps it's due to my military experience, but I admittedly struggle with patience. Once I have determined the best course of action in relation to God's revealed will, I work tirelessly to see it through as quickly as possible. This trait may seem admirable to some, but in reality it can be detrimental.
The life of a believer is marked by struggle and forced patience. When I say "forced," I mean that it is imposed upon us by God, in spite of our personal efforts. It's said that patience is a virtue, and this truth is nowhere more apparent than in the life of every believer. Patience is a necessary virtue because it acknowledges God's perfect timing above our flawed timeline. A lack of patience is rooted in trust of self, while an abundance of patience is rooted in trust of God.
As we examine the Scriptures, we discover that God often waits until the last possible moment to act - especially in times of crisis. To come to grips with patience during trial, we must recognize this characteristic of our Father and keep it ever-present in our minds. Studying God's timing also reveals the reason God tends to postpone action until long after we would expect or desire Him to act. As we review several examples of God's delayed timing, the reason for it becomes abundantly clear.
Remember Abraham and Isaac? God waited until Abraham's knife was raised and ready to plunge into Isaac before He stopped it. When Moses and the Hebrews left Egypt, God waited until Pharaoh and his army were right behind them to part the waters of the Red Sea. When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were condemned to the furnace, God waited until they were cast in to deliver them from the flames. When Daniel was sentenced to the lion's den, God waited until he was in the pit to close the lions' mouths. When Samson was engaged in continual battle with the Philistines, God waited until he was bound with his eyes gouged out to defeat them.
The life of Jesus, Himself, was no different. From infancy through adulthood, God delivered His Son from death right before His would-be murderers arrived, until His appointed time.
One common denominator exists for every one of these examples and the many more that fill Scripture: God has to wait until the last possible moment in order to be glorified and in order for us to learn to depend on Him. Had God told Abraham to not kill Isaac prior to lifting his knife, Abraham would have learned nothing of value and God would have appeared foolish instead of righteous. Had God parted the sea for the Hebrews prior to the Egyptians arriving, they would not have appreciated His assistance to the same degree. Had Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego never been thrown into the furnace, no one would have witnessed God's saving power. Had Daniel never been with the lions in the den, no one would have witnessed the miracle of their mouths being shut. Finally, had Jesus been delivered from his accusers early, many would have never noticed God's hand in protecting Him till His appointed time and would not have acknowledged Him as the Messiah.
Yet, while God often waits until the last minute, He is never late. As a song I like puts it, He is in time, on time, every time! By waiting until the last moment when we are completely helpless and totally dependent on Him, He forces us to recognize that it is all about Him and not about ourselves. It is as if God is saying, "I have waited until the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour in order to make it clear to you that I am God. You are completely dependent on Me for everything. Trust My ways, not your own. Rest assured and never fear, for I am in control."
When you become impatient and eager to put your own timing above God's, remember that the longer you wait the more mature you will be. Recognize that waiting on God's timing is a blessing, not a curse, and place your full trust completely in the hands of the perfect Timekeeper.
© 2013 by Stephen Hill