When I graduated from Harding University with my bachelor’s degree in Bible and Religion back in 2003, I naively assumed that ministry positions would come to me. However, that was not the case. For nine months I lived with my parents, worked at a paint store, and attended graduate school because I had nothing else to do. During that time, I kept wondering when God was going to utilize me. I thought to myself, “God I have given you my life for a career in your service. I’ve dedicated the past five years to prepare myself to serve in your kingdom. Why aren’t you using me?” In other words, I grew impatient with God’s timetable for my life.
I imagine that most, if not all, of us have been in a similar situation before, waiting on God’s timetable. Maybe you are in that situation right now. Maybe you are wondering something like…
Lord, when will You lead me to a better job?
Lord, when will I not be single anymore?
Lord, when will You bless our family with children?
Lord, when will I be well again?
Lord, when will the grief subside?
Lord, when will I get past this storm in my life?
I have never struggled with believing that God CAN do anything in my life, but I have struggled with WHEN God will do something in my life; what I have experienced in my life and in my ministry is that sometimes it is harder to accept God’s answer to the question of “when” than it is to accept His answer to the question of “what” or “how” or “why.” So, if you find yourself waiting on God, here are two important biblical truths to sustain you through the waiting room.
1.God predated time.
As mortals we are confined to a four dimensional world, but God is not. Scripture alludes to the fact that God predated time’s institution. For example in 1 Corinthians 2:7 (NIV) Paul said that God’s wisdom was “destined for our glory before time began” (emphasis added). Paul also stated in 2 Timothy 1:9 (NKJV) that God “saved us and called us…according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began” (emphasis added). Then Paul added in Titus 1:2 (NKJV) that “eternal life…[was] promised before time began” (emphasis added). In these passages we learn that God’s wisdom, God’s promises, and God’s plan existed “before time began.”
The aforementioned verses repeatedly used the phrase “before time began,” which is a statement that infers that time had a beginning. That beginning is recorded in Genesis 1:14, where we are told that on the fourth day of creation God created celestial bodies that “separated the day from the night” and “serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” Essentially, God spoke and time began. The Bible does not say it in quite so simple terms, but, by creating the elements by which time would be measured, God created time.
Why is it important to remember that God predated time? Because it reminds us that, while we are inferior to time, God is greater than time, and the fact that God is greater than time means that He is the only one who can see time in its totality. He can see the past without limitation, and He can the see the future with clarity. As a result, God is the only one who has perfect timing.
2.God controls time.
Do you know what an air traffic controller does? An air traffic controller is perched in the airport’s control tower observing flight paths, communicating with pilots, and telling planes when they can land and when they can take off. He’s the guy that you never see but is often the source of your frustration when you have to sit an exorbitant amount of time on the runway. It is his job to direct traffic, it is his job to keep everyone safe, it is his job to make things run smoothly, and sometimes, in order to accomplish those objectives, he has to make you wait.
God is kind of like an air traffic controller. He is perched in heaven observing the paths of our lives, communicating with us through His word, and trying to maneuver us in the direction of His will. At times He will give the go ahead signal and at times He will ground everything. It is His desire to direct traffic, it is His desire to keep everyone safe, It is His desire to make things run smoothly, and sometimes, in order to accomplish those objectives, He has to make you wait. This is evident when you look at the lives of some of the most important figures in Scripture.
Joseph spent thirteen years waiting on God’s will to be fulfilled. He endured forsakenness by his brothers, false accusations by his employer’s wife, and forgotten promises by a fellow prisoner. The best years of his life were spent between a pit and a prison. Yet, at the end of his story, when his brothers were worried about the possibility of revenge, Joseph revealed that he viewed his wait as a part of God’s plan. In Genesis 50:19-20 he said, “Do not be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” In other words, Joseph recognized that everything he endured and the time it took away from his life all became a part of God’s grand plan to save His people.
Esther became the queen of Persia during Israel’s captivity despite the fact that she was a Jew. During that time, her cousin, Mordecai, ran afoul of Haman, the King’s apparent right-hand-man. As a result, Haman convinced King Xerxes to pass a law that would initiate genocide against the Jews. Mordecai contacted Esther and urged her to convince the king to retract the law or else their entire race, including the coming Messiah, would be annihilated. As Mordecai pleaded with Esther to approach the king he said, “who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). In other words, Mordecai recognized that Esther’s rise to the position of queen could be a part of God’s grand plan to save His people.
Why is it important to observe that God controls time? Because it reminds us that God uses time to fulfill His purposes on His schedule through His people. We have to remember that we are just passengers on the plane while He is the air traffic controller in the tower. He sees the entire grid while we can only see out of the window. He knows all of the activity in the sky while we only know the activity in our seat. So who are we to question His timing? With this perspective in mind, we should approach time with the same attitude as David, who declared in Psalm 31:15 that “My times are in your hands.”