Famed pastor J.H. Jowett was once faced with a perplexing problem that demanded action on his part. Being unsure of what action to take, he consulted fellow pastor Charles Berry and asked him, “What would you do if you were in my place?” Berry answered, “I don’t know; I’m not there.” Then Berry added in, “And you are not there yet. When do you have to act?” “On Friday,” answered Jowett. “Then,” said Berry, “you will find your way perfectly clear on Friday. The Lord will not fail you.”
And did God give Jowett the guidance he needed on Friday? Yes, He did. Sometime later Jowett shared the whole story with F.W. Boreham, another notable pastor of the time, and Boreham used the story as an illustration of how important it is to wait upon God for guidance. As Boreham said in his colorful way of evoking three Biblical stories to prove the point:
Give God time and even when the knife flashes in the air the ram will be seen caught in the thicket (Genesis 22:1-19). Give God time and even when Pharaoh’s host is on Israel’s heels, a path through the waters will be suddenly open (Exodus 14:1-31). Give God time and when the bed of the brook is dry, Elijah shall hear the guiding voice (1 Kings 17:1-16).
Maybe you are at this moment faced with a problem that calls for action on your part. (And let me remind you that choosing the option of doing nothing is actually an action.) But what should you do? You should saturate heaven with your prayers for God’s guidance and take no action until you receive that guidance. As Boreham noted, the Angel of the Lord didn’t speak to Abraham from heaven until Abraham had literally stretched out his knife to slay Isaac in sacrifice to God (Genesis 22:9-10), God didn’t part the Red Sea for the Israelites until Pharaoh’s soldiers and chariots were literally within sight of them (Exodus 14:9-10), and God didn’t tell Elijah to relocate to the widow’s house in Zarephath until the Cherith Brook that had been keeping Elijah in water literally dried up completely (1 Kings 17:7-8).
Someone has said, “God is never late, but He does miss numerous opportunities to be early.” Truer words were never spoken. But I’d like to add this to them: Even if God seems to be late, as was the case with Christ’s healing of Lazarus (John 11:1-44), He just has something completely different in mind — in Lazarus’ case, it was a resurrection — for the situation.
The takeaway from all this is that you should seek God’s guidance, wait for His answer, and trust Him until your “Friday” comes. Even more than that, if that “Friday” comes and goes without you hearing from Him, then you’ll know that He is up to something far better than you yourself have asked for or could have imagined. Putting it simply, God rarely gets in a hurry regarding anything He is doing in our lives, and His greatest works almost never take place according to our deadlines.
I needed to read this today. Patience. Yeah, its something I need to have. Thank you Russell 👍
But…how do you hear God speak? Or whether or not it is God speaking?
God speaks to us through many ways. First and foremost, if you are a born-again Christian, He speaks to you through the tender voice of God the Holy Spirit, who dwells inside you (Romans 8:9-17). Christian or not, He speaks to you through the Bible, through circumstances (open doors and closed doors), and through the wise counsel of godly people. Furthermore, again if you are a born-again Christian, He speaks to you through His inner peace or lack of it regarding a potential course of action. As for how to tell whether or not it is God speaking to you, that does require some spiritual discernment, but Jesus promised that His sheep would hear His voice and recognize it ((John 10:1-5, 27). In addition to that, God has promised that if anyone lacks wisdom concerning what to do, He will liberally grant that wisdom to the person if he or she will call upon Him in faith that He will hear and provide His answer (James 1:5-8).