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The Bible is filled with action-oriented men and women. Doctors today might say they had "Type A" personalities. Martha exhibited the "need to succeed" compulsion on at least one occasion (Luke 10:39-41).
Paul was also prone to act. He didn't sit in one place too long. His baggage didn't tie him down. He habitually placed himself in the thick of things. Though he was an intelligent man, indecisiveness didn't plague him like some learned people. As the apostles first carried the gospel beyond Jerusalem, Paul led the opposition that nipped at their heels.
Paul was a man of action before and after his conversion. While you wouldn't think of the words "Paul" and "wait" in the same sentence, they are related. Despite his kinetic temperament, Paul was required by God to wait.
Paul's Forgotten Years
On the Road to Damascus, the Lord told Paul that he'd bring the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 9 and recounted in 22:21). However, what happened to Paul between the ninth and eleventh chapters of Acts?
When you read Galatians 1:15-18, you'll find out how much time elapsed. Before Paul began anything, he entered a three-year period of preparation. Once the three years in Arabia elapsed, Paul showed up in the Antioch church (Acts 11:25), where he did a one-year internship. Paul cooperated with God's timetable as the Lord prepared the apostle-in-waiting. Paul proved faithful in small things. But it wasn't yet time for the fulfillment of Paul's word.
Four years passed before Paul's prophetic vision on the Damascus road came true (Acts 13:1-4). God used this time to write His message to the Roman world on Paul's heart. While Peter dipped his toe in the Gentile waters (Acts 10), Paul dove in (Acts 13 to Acts 28).
Waiting, prophetic words, and prevailing prayers go together like peanut butter and jelly. As you war in prayer during the waiting period, the word tests you. You know what you're supposed to do. God may have told you what He intends to give you, but the time isn't right. Paul had to wait to go to the Gentiles, just as we have to wait for the Lord's fulfillment of our request.
Get Cozy or Go Crazy?
What are some meaningful ways to pass the time without going crazy? Are knitting, crocheting, or doing crossword puzzles the only options available? In this lesson, I'd like to review six activities you can do while waiting on God to answer your prayer:
(We will ocver the first two activities in this lesson and the remaining four in our next lesson.)
First, the waiting period isn't a time to recycle old hurts.
Let me illustrate this with the story of one of the USA's recent Mars rovers. After "Spirit" landed on Mars, it was almost put out of commission by a malfunction. Why? Images collected by the rover as it flew through space clogged up its available memory. There was no room in the probe's memory for the program designed to guide it on Mars to operate. The rover tried to heal itself by rebooting its memory dozens of times, but it didn't work.
Without divine intervention from NASA, the rover would have become another of the two-thirds of the spacecrafts sent to Mars that ended up useless derelicts.
If you recycle your life's painful memories while you're waiting on God, it'll render you useless. Satan tries to have us throw a permanent pity party. He'll attempt to convince us that our unresolved hurts represent times where God let us down. He'll endeavor to draw similarities between past disappointments and the present pain that arises out of waiting on God. If the enemy is successful, he'll say, "What's the point in waiting, when you know God doesn't keep His promises?"
Waiting is a time for cleansing out the wounds linked to the old memories. That way the enemy cannot use them against us. God wants to heal us, so we will be free to follow the new program He's planted in us. If we aren't free, and our prayer is answered, we won't be ready to follow the destiny He's planned for us. The emotional ties that bind us to the past will prove stronger than the hope that draws us into the future.
Second, the waiting period is time set aside by God to strip non- essentials off us (Hebrews 12:1).
God has to deal with two areas: our possessions and what possesses us (1 John 2:15-16). Sometimes those two items are the same. Our time is dominated by cars, bank accounts, stars, trophy wives/husbands/girl friends/boy friends, etc. (In case you are not familiar with the term "trophy" person, it is someone who outwardly impressese others but indwardly they don't impress God. Essau was an example of a trophy person--on the out side he was everything a father would want, but his heart and motivations did not impress his Father God.)
What is a star? A star is whatever brings you fame, reputation, or promotion. For an actor, it represents a star in front of Grumman's Chinese Theatre. Your "star" may be a job that puts you in the spotlight. Or it may be a promotion that brings in so much money, that you forget God (Deuteronomy 6:6-18). When we pray for a trophy person in our life, our prayers for a companion often go unanswered. We tend to put people on pedestals and forget that God wants no one else on the throne of our life but Him.
I don't believe that God keeps His people poor to keep them humble. That "poor" mentality stops some Christians from achieving their God-given destinies. Christians who don't live up to their potential, don't give up to their potential.
That's why many mission projects have gone unfunded. Besides, both poor and rich people live as if God doesn't exist. Being poor doesn't make you pious. But if anything gets in God's way, He'll work to remove it from us. We can do it the easy way and cooperate. Or we can do things the hard way. Dentists have nothing on God when it comes making extractions. Let's just say that our Lord is thorough and patient.