When God Delays
God’s delays have often perplexed me. Since His goal is to reach the world, then when I ask Him, “What do You want me to do with my life?” He should answer immediately. Instead, there is often silence. But why would God be silent if He desires me to do His will?
How many people have said to God, “I surrender all,” and, “Wherever You lead I’ll go,” and meant it, but then have been left standing with no further direction? That has happened to me, and I have often felt alone while waiting for God to speak. I kept thinking the problem was God, but one day God opened my eyes to see the problem was me.
I realized that God often was waiting to answer because I was not ready. My intention wasn’t for God to tell me what He wanted me to do, but for Him to bless my plans. It hadn’t occurred to me that God had plans of His own and that I existed for His purpose. To my shock, I realized that God was silent because He was showing grace, because I was still in preparation for the call.
God doesn’t waste our gifts and talents, but He might wait to use them until we are perfectly prepared for the task He has for us. Times of silence can often be equated with delays. What should we do during those delays? Never stop trusting Him. Another thing is to assess whether or not we truly understand and are ready to accept His calling. He may be waiting for us to answer Him, not the other way around.
God has shown me three stages to understanding and accepting our calling.
1. Declare that you will follow.
This stage is not as easy as it might seem. Luke 9:57-60 tells of several situations where those who professed their desire to follow Jesus immediately came up with all kinds of reasons to justify delaying their obedience.
As they were walking along the road, a man said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” He said to another man, “Follow me.” But the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” God wants us to respond to Him with obedience, regardless of the cost.
2. Fully appreciate the cost and be willing to pay it.
Experience has shown me that no matter how long I take to assess the cost of obedience, I don’t fully appreciate it until I make my unwavering declaration to follow.
So what will compel us to not only declare our commitment to Christ, but also actually pay the cost of following Him? Often my delay in following Jesus boils down to the question Jesus asked Peter three times in John 21, “Do you love Me?"
Could it really be that simple? If my husband or sons were ill, would I not spare any expense to help them recover? I would do what I needed to do, no matter the cost, because I love them.
3. Acknowledge God’s power.
The only way we can give God what He desires is by trusting in His power. If we try to do it on our own, we will surely fail.
It’s when we humble ourselves before God and acknowledge His power over all things that he will then carry us to a level beyond our wildest imagination. When Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He asked the question three times. Peter’s answer to this question was, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love You” (John 21:15). So God went to where Peter was. It is the same with us. When we humble ourselves before Him and acknowledge our human weaknesses, He meets us where we are and then He grows us into what He is asking of us.
Anita Carman is a columnist for Just Between Us and the Founder and President of Inspire Women, an organization that inspires women across ethnicities, denominations, and economic levels to connect their lives to God’s purpose. It also funds biblical resources and scholarships to train women for missions and ministry. She has an M.B.A. and completed graduate level studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. Anita writes a regular devotion and is author of Transforming for a Purpose and A Daughter’s Destiny. She lives in Houston, Tex., with her husband, Robert; they have two sons.