Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.
The Holy Spirit guides and directs us with green, yellow, and red lights… step by step. When we ignore him or live such busy, loud, and noisy lives, we make it impossible to hear him. We quench his Spirit within us.
And quite frankly, we deserve the C-minus lives we get.
But there is one thing the Holy Spirit directs us to do that is perhaps the hardest of all. It might not be a sin to ignore this guidance although it does lead to many sins and, without a doubt, a host of problems and issues.
What is this close-to-impossible-to-follow counsel from the Spirit within?
It is perhaps the hardest thing for us busy, can-do, “If-I-don’t-it-won’t” Americans to do. The complications we usher into our lives from ignoring this particular guidance from the Holy Spirit can be avoided so easily but are oh so messy.
Just think of the collapse that would have been avoided if Adam had said to Eve, “I know the fruit looks delicious, and maybe we did hear God wrong… or, so the serpent says… but why don’t we just wait and ask God? Any reason why we can’t just wait awhile before acting, Dear?”
Jesus was emphatic about his disciples needing to wait for the Spirit’s guidance and the Spirit’s power, and in the opening scene of Acts we hear his admonition:
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ”Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised.” (Acts 1:4)
But I don’t like to wait. I’ve got to act now! Waiting means I might not get my way. They need to hear my concerns (my superior advice… my complaints… my corrections… my rebukes. I have to keep everybody straight. If I don’t act, this thing might get out of hand.
And I might not get my way.
How many decisions have you felt compelled to act on that, looking back, would have been so much better if you had just waited a while?
How many comments have you made with, of course, the most sincere desire to help that, looking back, were so utterly ineffective, unnecessary, and even destructive?
Ignoring this rhythm of the spiritual life creates complications, hurt feelings, confusion, and suffering.
When I wait on God, I always see his best. When I wait on God and the guidance and power of his Spirit within me, the result is always the best. Not sometimes but always.
When I refuse to wait, I grieve his Spirit within me (see Eph. 4:3).
Waiting on the Spirit’s guidance brings me closer to my Lord… every time. I get to see his movement. I get to see his power at work… none of which are possible when I am acting and reacting on my own impulse.
God tells us, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psa. 46:10). Oh, to be still. To know God.
Jesus reinforces this ridiculously impractical counsel with…
…the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But [wait] and seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matt. 6:32-33)
It’s safe to wait… if you live in a God-saturated world. It’s safe to wait if you see the Holy Spirit permeating your life.
But you must act… and react… quickly if it’s all up to you. If you live in a you-saturated world in which you think you are in charge, you must be assertive, demanding, and quick to act in your self-interest.
“The pagans run after these things.” Notice Jesus didn’t say, “The horrible sinners run after these things.” Pagans are those who don’t know God. They are scurrying. They are running, not waiting. They are acting and reacting… busily. I’ve been a pagan long enough.
I want to know God.
So I’ll learn to be still… and to wait.
One last thing for those of you thinking, ”Sam, you’re just out of touch with reality. No one can operate in this world… run a business… run a busy family… with this approach.”
This is not about waiting on God to do for me but, instead, waiting on God to guide me.
God is not saying, “Do nothing, and I’ll take care of everything for you.” In fact, God tells us to do our part but to then watch him do the heavy lifting (Phil. 2:12).
And, yes, there will be times when acting quickly is necessary. At these times, we trust God to guide us even as we act quickly. But, come on, we both know this is about five percent of the time. Our not waiting because we want to act quickly… to get our way… is 95 percent of the time.
But when I am still, I hear God saying to me, “Wait… and delight yourself in the Lord while you’re waiting, and I will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4, paraphrase).
Delight in him. Wait on him. Be still. You will indeed receive the desires of your heart. And, trust me… You won’t know what these desires really are until you learn to be still and wait on God’s A-plus best.