It’s become a cliché, really.
“Wait on God.”
In the glib heart, it’s an all purpose non-answer. It’s what we say when we don’t know what to say.
In Waiting on God: What to Do When God Does Nothing, Wayne Stiles opens the lens of Scripture to take in the Old Testament life of Joseph and de-formulizes that formulaic phrase. Because Joseph spent so much of his life waiting for God to do something, Wayne helps us to see that “we apply sovereignty by waiting on God,” and that every single fruit of the Spirit can be linked in some way to waiting. He offers much practical wisdom in every chapter, but I plucked ten fruitful principles for my own heart to remember when I’m waiting for God to act:
- Mind the gaps! What we don’t see in biblical narrative is the large gaps of time between the great moments. Biblical lives were not non-stop action any more than ours are, and it is during these God-orchestrated gaps that we do our waiting . . . and wondering. For better insight into Joseph’s life, be sure to follow Joseph’s story found in Genesis 37-50, and available with just a click at Biblegateway.com (#bgbg2).
- If you’ve spent a lifetime in a family that puts the “fun” in dysfunctional, it takes more than promises to keep from repeating their failures. God is at work in this kind of challenging commitment to change. He rescued Joseph from resorting to unhealthy patterns, and He will meet us in our waiting times to bring about changes that will move our hearts away from generational sin. (Genesis 37:19,20)
- The hunger that gnaws at your heart during times of waiting will not be satisfied by a quick fix. Don’t short-circuit God’s good plan by settling for Satan’s short-cut. (Genesis 39:9)
- Judah, Joseph’s brother, left home and used sex as a sedative for a disappointing life. Joseph’s denial of Potiphar’s wife was a decision NOT to gratify himself, but, instead, to wait. Like Joseph, we may have to wait (long and hard) for a glimpse of God’s reasoning behind His assignment of waiting, (Genesis 39:20, 21).
- The pit of waiting is God’s stop-light where we build character for what lies ahead. Deep rootedness is a higher priority than present-day productivity. (Psalm 105:18,19)
- Obscure faithfulness in our daily walk with God is not a path to immediate maturity or success. Joseph may have felt forgotten for two years, but he did not forget God. While Joseph’s abilities were on the shelf, God was preparing him for later success. (Luke 16:10)
- While we think of waiting as the problem, God intends the time of waiting to REVEAL the problem. God used time to create space for forgiveness among the sons of Jacob and also to open their father Jacob’s own heart. (Genesis 43:14) Wayne Stiles challenges his readers to “consider the joy you would have if you surrendered the life you want and embraced the life God is waiting to give you.”
- God devotes three chapters to the twenty-four hour waiting period before Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers. It was the climax of a twenty-two year wait for reconciliation. In his father Jacob’s case, he did not even realize that he had been waiting — the blessing of seeing his son alive again was completely unexpected! (Ephesians 3:20)
- Joseph was quick to give God credit for the plot-line of his life:
“God will interpret your dream, Pharaoh.”
“God meant your evil for good, brothers.”
Recognizing God at work made it possible for Joseph to forgive whole-heartedly. Reconciliation followed even after all the lost years.
- By the time Jacob passed away, the long view had proved him joyously wrong in his lament that “all things are against me!” Hopelessness has no place in our lives, even in the midst of agony like Jacob experienced. When his sons buried him, these Old Testament saints died “without receiving the promises.” We, too, live with continual hope of promises that we have yet to see.
And so we wait. The Christian life is one of obedience which requires an eternal perspective during the moments when it appears that God is inactive. Joseph’s story is our story, but it is also true that his hope is our hope. As we wait individually, in whatever tiny narrative is unfolding on the home front, we wait for the fulfillment of Jesus’ words: “Surely, I am coming quickly.”
To this, we reply from our deepest heart: “Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.”
And while we wait? “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”
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This book was provided by BakerBooks, a division of Baker Publishing Group, in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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