Waiting and Over-Waiting

“I have begun to give;…begin to possess” (Deut. 2:31).

A great deal is said in the Bible about waiting for God. The lesson cannot be too strongly enforced. We easily grow impatient of God’s delays. Much of our trouble in life comes out of our restless, sometimes reckless, haste. We cannot wait for the fruit to ripen, but insist on plucking it while it is green. We cannot wait for the answers to our prayers, although the things we ask for may require long years in their preparation for us. We are exhorted to walk with God; but ofttimes God walks very slowly. But there is another phase of the lesson. God often waits for us.

We fail many times to receive the blessing He has ready for us, because we do not go forward with Him. While we miss much good through not waiting for God, we also miss much through over-waiting.  There are times when our strength is to sit still, but there are also times when we are to go forward with a firm step.

There are many Divine promises which are conditioned upon the beginning of some action on our part. When we begin to obey, God will begin to bless us. Great things were promised to Abraham, but not one of them could have been obtained by waiting in Chaldea. He must leave home, friends, and country, and go out into unknown paths and press on in unfaltering obedience in order to receive the promises. The ten lepers were told to show themselves to the priest, and “as they went they were cleansed.” If they had waited to see the cleansing come in their flesh before they would start, they would never have seen it. God was waiting to cleanse them; and the moment their faith began to work, the blessing came.

When the Israelites were shut in by a pursuing army at the Red Sea, they were commanded to “Go forward.” Their duty was no longer one of waiting, but of rising up from bended knees and going forward in the way of heroic faith. They were commanded to show their faith at another time by beginning their march over the Jordan while the river ran to its widest banks. The key to unlock the gate into the Land of Promise they held in their own hands, and the gate would not turn on its hinges until they had approached it and unlocked it. That key was faith. We are set to fight certain battles. We say we can never be victorious; that we never can conquer these enemies; but, as we enter the conflict, One comes and fights by our side, and through Him we are more than conquerors. If we had waited, trembling and fearing, for our Helper to come before we would join the battle, we should have waited in vain. This would have been the over-waiting of unbelief. God is waiting to pour richest blessings upon you. Press forward with bold confidence and take what is yours. “I have begun to give, begin to possess.”  –J. R. Miller

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Waiting is Hard

“When the cloud tarried . . . then the children of Israel . . . journeyed not” (Num. 9:19).

This was the supreme test of obedience. It was comparatively easy to strike tents, when the fleecy folds of the cloud were slowly gathering from off the Tabernacle, and it floated majestically before the host. Change is always delightful; and there was excitement and interest in the route, the scenery, and the locality of the next halting-place. But, ah, the tarrying.

Then, however uninviting and sultry the location, however trying to flesh and blood, however irksome to the impatient disposition, however perilously exposed to danger–there was no option but to remain encamped.

The Psalmist says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.” And what He did for the Old Testament saints He will do for believers throughout all ages.

Still God often keeps us waiting. Face to face with threatening foes, in the midst of alarms, encircled by perils, beneath the impending rock. May we not go? Is it not time to strike our tents? Have we not suffered to the point of utter collapse? May we not exchange the glare and heat for green pastures and still waters?

There is no answer. The cloud tarries, and we must remain, though sure of manna, rock-water, shelter, and defense. God never keeps us at post without assuring us of His presence, and sending us daily supplies.

Wait, young man, do not be in a hurry to make a change! Minister, remain at your post! Until the cloud clearly moves, you must tarry. Wait, then, thy Lord’s good pleasure! He will be in plenty of time!–Daily Devotional Commentary

An hour of waiting!
Yet there seems such need
To reach that spot sublime!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS time!

“Sit still, my daughter”–
Yet the heathen die,
They perish while I stay!
I long to reach them–but I long far more
To trust HIS way!

‘Tis good to get,
‘Tis good indeed to give!
Yet is it better still–
O’er breadth, thro’ length, down length, up height,
To trust HIS will! –F. M. N.

(From Charles E Cowman Devotional – Streams in the Desert) 

Service of Waiting

“After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithyma: but the Spirit suffered them not” (Acts 16:7).

What a strange prohibition! These men were going into Bithynia just to do Christ’s work, and the door is shut against them by Christ’s own Spirit. I, too, have experienced this in certain moments. I have sometimes found myself interrupted in what seemed to me a career of usefulness. Opposition came and forced me to go back, or sickness came and compelled me to retire into a desert apart.
 
It was hard at such times to leave my work undone when I believed that work to be the service of the Spirit. But I came to remember that the Spirit has not only a service of work, but a service of waiting. I came to see that in the Kingdom of Christ there are not only times for action, but times in which to forbear acting. I came to learn that the desert place apart is often the most useful spot in the varied life of man–more rich in harvest than the seasons in which the corn and wine abounded. I have been taught to thank the blessed Spirit that many a darling Bithynia had to be left unvisited by me.

And so, Thou Divine Spirit, would I still be led by Thee. Still there come to me disappointed prospects of usefulness. Today the door seems to open into life and work for Thee; tomorrow it closes before me just as I am about to enter.

Teach me to see another door in the very inaction of the hour. Help me to find in the very prohibition thus to serve Thee, a new opening into Thy service. Inspire me with the knowledge that a man may at times be called to do his duty by doing nothing, to work by keeping still, to serve by waiting. When I remember the power of the “still small voice,” I shall not murmur that sometimes the Spirit suffers me not to go. –George Matheson

“When I cannot understand my Father’s leading,
And it seems to be but hard and cruel fate,
I Still I hear that gentle whisper ever
pleading,God is working, God is faithful, ONLY WAIT.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert) 

Wait Quietly

“And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise” (Heb. 6:15).

Abraham was long tried, but he was richly rewarded. The Lord tried him by delaying to fulfill His promise. Satan tried him by temptation; men tried him by jealousy, distrust, and opposition; Sarah tried him by her peevishness. But he patiently endured. He did not question God’s veracity, nor limit His power, nor doubt His faithfulness, nor grieve His love; but he bowed to Divine Sovereignty, submitted to Infinite Wisdom, and was silent under delays, waiting the Lord’s time. And so, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

God’s promises cannot fail of their accomplishment. Patient waiters cannot be disappointed. Believing expectation shall be realized.

Beloved, Abraham’s conduct condemns a hasty spirit, reproves a murmuring one, commends a patient one, and encourages quiet submission to God’s will and way. Remember, Abraham was tried; he patiently waited; he received the promise, and was satisfied. Imitate his example, and you will share the same blessing.–Selected

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Ordering the Stops

“In waiting, I waited, for the Lord” (Ps. 40:1).

Waiting is much more difficult than walking.  Waiting requires patience, and patience is a rare virtue.  It is fine to know that God builds hedges around His people–when the hedge is looked at from the viewpoint of protection.  But when the hedge is kept around one until it grows so high that he cannot see over the top, and wonders whether he is ever to get out of the little sphere of influence and service in which he is pent up, it is hard for him sometimes to understand why he may not have a larger environment–hard for him to “brighten the corner” where he is.  But God has a purpose in all HIS holdups.  “The steps of a good man are ordered of the Lord,” reads Psalm 37:23.
 
On the margin of his Bible at this verse George Mueller had a notation, “And the stops also.”  It is a sad mistake for men to break through God’s hedges.  It is a vital principle of guidance for a Christian never to move out of the place in which he is sure God has placed him, until the Pillar of Cloud moves.–Sunday School Times

When we learn to wait for our Lord’s lead in everything, we shall know the strength that finds its climax in an even, steady walk.  Many of us are lacking in the strength we so covet.  But God gives full power for every task He appoints.  Waiting, holding oneself true to His lead–this is the secret of strength.  And anything that falls out of the line of obedience is a waste of time and strength.  Watch for His leading.–S. D. Gordon

Must life be a failure for one compelled to stand still in enforced inaction and see the great throbbing tides of life go by?  No; victory is then to be gotten by standing still, by quiet waiting.  It is a thousand times harder to do this than it was in the active days to rush on in the columns of stirring life.  It requires a grander heroism to stand and wait and not lose heart and not lose hope, to submit to the will of God, to give up work and honors to others, to be quiet, confident and rejoicing, while the happy, busy multitude go on and away.  It is the grandest life “having done all, to stand.”–J. R. Miller

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

It Is Sufficient

“IS” (2 Cor. 12:9).

It had pleased God to remove my youngest child under circumstances of peculiar trial and pain; and as I had just laid my little one’s body in the churchyard, on return home, I felt it my duty to preach to my people on the meaning of trial.

Finding that this text was in the lesson for the following Sabbath, I chose it as my Master’s message to them and myself; but on trying to prepare the notes, I found that in honesty I could not say that the words were true; and therefore I knelt down and asked God to let His grace be sufficient for me. While I was thus pleading, I opened my eyes and saw a framed illuminated text, which my mother had given me only a few days before, and which I had told my servant to place upon the wall during my absence at the holiday resort where my little one was taken away from us.

I did not notice the words on returning to my house; but as I looked up and wiped my eyes, the words met my gaze, “My grace is sufficient for thee.”

The “is” was picked out in bright green while the “My” and the “thee” were painted in another color.

In one moment the message came straight to my soul, as a rebuke for offering such a prayer as, “Lord, let Thy grace be sufficient for me”; for the answer was almost as an audible voice, “How dare you ask that which is?” God cannot make it any more sufficient than He has made it; get up and believe it, and you will find it true, because the Lord says it in the simplest way: “My grace is (not shall be or may be) sufficient for thee.”

“My,” “is,” and “thee” were from that moment, I hope, indelibly fixed upon my heart; and I (thank God) have been trying to live in the reality of the message from that day forward to the present time.

The lesson that came to me, and which I seek to convey to others, is, Never turn God’s facts into hopes, or prayers, but simply use them as realities, and you will find them powerful as you believe them.–Prebendary H. W. Webb Peploe

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added affliction He addeth His mercies,
To multiplied trials His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,

His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
–Annie Johnson Flint

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

Waiting For Hope

“For we through the Spirit by faith wait for the hope of righteousness” (Gal. 5:5, RV).

There are times when things look very dark to me–so dark that I have to wait even for hope. It is bad enough to wait in hope. A long-deferred fulfillment carries its own pain, but to wait for hope, to see no glimmer of a prospect and yet refuse to despair; to have nothing but night before the casement and yet to keep the casement open for possible stars; to have a vacant place in my heart and yet to allow that place to be filled by no inferior presence–that is the grandest patience in the universe. It is Job in the tempest; it is Abraham on the road to Moriah; it is Moses in the desert of Midian; it is the Son of man in the Garden of Gethsemane.

There is no patience so hard as that which endures, “as seeing him who is invisible”; it is the waiting for hope.

Thou hast made waiting beautiful; Thou has made patience divine. Thou hast taught us that the Father’s will may be received just because it is His will. Thou hast revealed to us that a soul may see nothing but sorrow in the cup and yet may refuse to let it go, convinced that the eye of the Father sees further than its own.

Give me this Divine power of Thine, the power of Gethsemane. Give me the power to wait for hope itself, to look out from the casement where there are no stars. Give me the power, when the very joy that was set before me is gone, to stand unconquered amid the night, and say, “To the eye of my Father it is perhaps shining still.” I shall reach the climax of strength when I have learned to wait for hope. –George Matheson

Strive to be one of those–so few–who walk the earth with ever-present consciousness–all mornings, middays, star-times–that the unknown which men call Heaven is “close behind the visible scene of things.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)

God is Not Unobservant

“I will be still, and I will behold in my dwelling place” (Isa. 18:4, RV).

Assyria was marching against Ethiopia, the people of which are described as tall and smooth.  And as the armies advance, God makes no effort to arrest them; it seems as though they will be allowed to work their will.  He is still watching them from His dwelling place, the sun still shines on them; but before the harvest, the whole of the proud army of Assyria is smitten as easily as when sprigs are cut off by the pruning hook of the husbandman. 

Is not this a marvelous conception of God–being still and watching?  His stillness is not acquiescence.  His silence is not consent.  He is only biding His time, and will arise, in the most opportune moment, and when the designs of the wicked seem on the point of success, to overwhelm them with disaster. As we look out on the evil of the world; as we think of the apparent success of wrong-doing; as we wince beneath the oppression of those that hate us, let us remember these marvelous words about God being still and beholding.

There is another side to this.  Jesus beheld His disciples toiling at the oars through the stormy night; and watched though unseen, the successive steps of the anguish of Bethany, when Lazarus slowly passed through the stages of mortal sickness, until he succumbed and was borne to the rocky tomb.  But He was only waiting the moment when He could interpose most effectually.  Is He still to thee?  He is not unobservant; He is beholding all things; He has His finger on thy pulse, keenly sensitive to all its fluctuations.  He will come to save thee when the precise moment has arrived. –Daily Devotional Commentary

Whatever His questions or His reticences, we may be absolutely sure of an unperplexed and undismayed Saviour.

“O troubled soul, beneath the rod,
Thy Father speaks, be still, be still;
Learn to be silent unto God,
And let Him mould thee to His will.

“O praying soul, be still, be still,
He cannot break His plighted Word;
Sink down into His blessed will,
And wait in patience on the Lord.

“O waiting soul, be still, be strong,
And though He tarry, trust and wait;
Doubt not, He will not wait too long,
Fear not, He will not come too late.”

(From Charles E Cowman Devotionals – Streams in the Desert)