If only I had waited…
If only I had paused for a moment…
If only I had stopped and thought about the consequences…
If only I had had 20/20 hindsight, then….
Have you ever regretted your actions or decisions at some point in your life, like me?
Self-reliance, impulsivity and feelings of anxiousness are often the mitigating factors that have influenced me to take matters in my own hands. Rarely, and I do mean that, rarely have the results of my impulsive, impatient actions ever been favorable. Yet, waiting is hard; especially when the situation I’m in seems to need a response or when in all truth, I just don’t want to wait anymore.
However, as I look back on my life, I am able to identify specific, God-ordained times that waiting for something or some one beyond my personal time frame, was best.
There are times when we just need to wait.
No matter how long it takes, we may need to wait for some thing, some one, or some event beyond our personal time frame. Because ultimately, time is not in our hands, but rather in the hands of our God.
But what happens when the times are dangerous, difficult or uncertain?
For the King of Israel and his troops, a formidable enemy was looming large on the horizon. Fear gripped the hearts of Saul’s men. Seven days before, King Saul had been told to wait for Samuel, the prophet and priest, to come and offer sacrifices to the Lord. When Samuel came, he had promised to tell King Saul what he must do. The seventh day had arrived, but Samuel had not; yet…
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
“What have you done?” asked Samuel. 1 Samuel 13:8-11a
Saul had taken matters literally into his own hands as he ceremoniously made sacrifices to his God. Yet, the ceremony was not a demonstration of his faith or trust, but rather a betrayal of confidence. He disobeyed God’s law as at this time only priests were allowed to offer sacrifices. He disobeyed Samuel’s instructions to wait for him as well. Saul’s motives centered upon his selfish desire for immediate action. He could not wait any longer as he saw the looming battle, saw the anxiety of his men, and saw that he could not depend upon his priest. He sought God’s favor by going through the religious motions but without the conviction of heart.
It would be easy to judge or condemn King Saul, but I cannot. I’ve done the same kind of thing.
I have acted impulsively out of fear or worry when something wasn’t happening fast enough.
There have been times when I felt that time was running out and I needed to do something.
I have become impatient during long delays and setbacks.
Saul was tested by a time delay. Samuel didn’t arrive when Saul expected him to and that was frustrating and exasperating for Saul. Samuel arrived at the final hour, rather than at the dawn of day. Samuel had asked the king to wait for him, but the king could not. Saul allowed the pressure of his circumstances to determine his response and direct his actions.
The consequences of this choice ultimately began a domino effect of self destruction that led to the loss of his reputation, loss of his stature, loss of his sound mind and the loss of his life. What a terrible outcome due to his decision not to wait. He chose self-reliance over trusting his priest and ultimately trusting in the care and provision of his God to help him in a dangerous and difficult situation.
What an incredible and sobering life lesson that may apply in some way to every one of us; regardless of our age, regardless of our position or regardless of our life experience.
Will we trust our God and wait for Him even if it means waiting until the final hour?
For as followers of Jesus Christ, this is what we are asked to do.
But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come… 2 Peter 3: 8-10a
He will come at an hour we do not expect and not within our personal time frame. May we await His arrival in hope and expectation and count upon His promise. For just as Saul could have been found faithful as he waited for Samuel, we are provided the same opportunity as we wait upon our Savior and Lord. Let us keep seeking Him in the meantime.
Photo by Carli Photography of Flickr