Charles Stanley — Waiting on God's Timing
I was thinking the other day of all the principles I have ever studied and learned in the Word of God, which one stands above all the rest? Well, that was hard for me to figure, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that one of those that always comes close to the top, if not the top, is this simple principle of waiting upon God. It’s not the easiest one by a long shot, but timing with God is everything. And timing, if you’ll look around, for example, every sport, timing is everything. Whether it’s a long pass to a runner, a fast ball to a batter; whether you’re flying a plane or you’re in love with someone and you want to tell them; or you are negotiating some deal, timing is everything.
And oftentimes we overlook the idea that the same is true in our relationship to God. It’s not that we have to have a timing issue to get saved. It’s the fact that once you trust Him as your personal Savior, He begins to unfold His plan for your life. And He doesn’t say, Well, now you just do whatever you want to do and I’ll be with you. That’s not the way He operates. God has a plan for your life. That plan is fantastic; it’s perfect, and it’s perfectly suited for you, whoever you are, wherever you are and what’s going on in your life. To reject that plan is to reject the best in your life. You reject His plan, you will never enjoy life as He intended it. You’ll never have what God intended you to have. You’ll never quite know where you are in life if you reject His plan and His timing. And His timing and His plan go together, because His plan is crystal clear, and He reveals it to us a step at a time.
And I think about how many people never even consider the fact that God has a plan for their life. They go to school; they get an education; they choose some area of life to work in, to labor in. And then they head out with all their plans, without ever stopping to think, Well, God, why did You create me? What was Your purpose? What was Your plan? And therefore, where am I at this point in this plan? And to ignore God’s plan and to ignore His timing in living out that plan is a disaster. And everywhere you turn you find people who are miserable, unhappy. They can’t tell you why oftentimes. That’s why they get on drugs and alcohol and all the rest. They’re trying to figure it out in life. They’ve tried all the finances and that didn’t work. They’ve tried the sex, that didn’t work. They’ve tried all kind of relationships and that didn’t work; and the business world; and the success that goes with all of that. And somehow there’s a big empty void and no matter what they do they can’t fill it up.
You see, God’s plan, and listen, God’s plan cannot be filled with any homemade ideas. His plan is the best. It brings Him glory and honor and is fulfilling to you and me. And in that plan there’s timing. And when I think about the timing of God, it is a very, very vital and important “point” in our life and in our relationship to Him. So I want you to turn in a few moments to the Psalms and a particular one. And I want you to see how often David, for example, talked about God’s timing and living according to His time and His schedule. And if I should ask you today, Whose schedule do you live by? You’d probably say, Well, by my own. And well, your schedule, what does, where, Where is God in all that? Do you ever stop to ask Him, Lord, what do You think?
So I want you to listen carefully, because timing is very important with God in relationship to your life, presently and future; and your relationships to each other; and with the things that you purchase, places you go, timing is very important. So I want you to turn if you will to the twenty-seventh Psalm, and I want us to read beginning in verse eleven of this twenty-seventh Psalm. David is speaking. He says, "Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a level path because of my foes. Do not deliver me over to the desire of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen against me, and such as breathe out violence". Listen to what he says, "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord".
Now what in the world does he mean by waiting on the Lord? Does that mean that you are to wait for every single decision and make some request that He give you direction? Or is there something easier about it than that? Waiting on the Lord is a vital principle to every single Christian. We all have decisions to make. We all have opportunities that we face. If you live your life by simply moving on, taking advantage of the opportunity, as you would think, and never even considering the fact that God has a will and a perfect plan. And that also He not only has a plan, but He has timing in that plan. There are some things He’s provided for you that are not available to you yet, but it’s in His plan. There are some things that He has that’s available now. And there are some issues in life from which you and I have to back off and say, Okay, God, give me direction; give me wisdom. How do I respond to this? God’s timing is absolutely basic and essential.
So when you think about your life and how you live it, it’s absolutely essential that you and I walk in the will of God. And in order for us to walk in the will of God, I must walk according to His timing, not mine. The frequency of this admonition in the scripture is awesome. So I’m going to give you a few passages here and I want you to turn first of all to the thirty-seventh Psalm. And in the first verse, he says, "Do not fret". Three times in that passage he says, Do not fret. And then beginning in the seventh verse he says, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him". That is not easy to do. And you see, he follows that immediately with, "Do not fret," again. And verse eight, "Do not fret". And if you’ll turn to the ninth verse, "For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land".
Listen, God is watching over you. God’s hand is covering you. And if you and I are willing to walk in His way, His will and His timing, He will provide everything we need. And the things that our family needs or our children need. Look at another verse there, if you, look in the thirty-fourth verse of that thirty-seventh Psalm, "Wait for the Lord and keep His way". That is, obey Him. And sometimes He doesn’t show us His plan quickly in life. And there are many people who would say, Well, you know, at this point in my life I’m sixty or sixty-five, I don’t know that God’s ever had a plan for my life. Yes, He has.
You say, Well, suppose I miss it? Get back in His will. In other words, watch this. You listening? Say amen. There’s always a secondary. When people go through years of their life and they don’t even, nobody’s ever told them God had a plan for their life, and they get out there and years and years and years go by. And all of a sudden they realize, God had a plan for my life; I must have missed it. Watch this. When He knows where you are and why you missed that plan, God is willing to show you His secondary plan. He’ll take you right where you are and He’ll give you a whole new beginning. That’s what grace is all about.
Somebody says, Do we have a second chance? Second, third, fourth, fifth, I mean, praise God, He doesn’t just cut us off because we missed it somewhere. But many people never catch on, that God has a plan and timing with Him is very, very important. So if you’ll look in the fortieth Psalm now, and just the first verse of this fortieth Psalm, I want you to notice what he says. He says, "I waited patiently for the Lord; And He inclined to me and heard my cry". And then he talks about how God brought him up. Waiting upon Him. Lord, what do I do next? He is, listen,God doesn’t have secrets to keep from us. He’s willing to show us if we’re willing to listen, how very important that is.
And then if you’ll look in Isaiah sixty-four, four, which I think is one of the most important verses in the Word of God when it comes to just living your life out, no matter how old you are, how young you are. Here it is. Sixty-fourth chapter and the fourth verse. Listen, "For from days of old they have not heard or perceived by ear, nor has the eye seen a God besides You, who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him". Listen to that. When you and I are living out our life and trying to make decisions in our life, and God shows us something, and you say, Well, is this for me now?
Sometimes you’ll know that it’s not for now. But God, God makes you a particular promise or He shows you what He has. And He says He, "acts in behalf of those who wait for Him". Now think about this for a moment. No matter what you’re facing in life, what you need in life, what you desire in life or the difficulties, think about this whole idea. He says that He acts. This is the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent sovereign God of the universe who said He acts. He takes action in your behalf. He acts in your behalf. He acts in the life of those who wait for Him, who seek His guidance and His direction. And if I’m waiting upon the Lord, it means that I’m acknowledging His lordship. It means that I am seeking His guidance and His direction. And He says He acts in our behalf.
Let me ask you a question. Who can do for you what God can do? Nobody. And, listen, whatever you’re facing in life, think about this. You have almighty God acting, working sovereignly in your behalf, to get you in His will; that you follow Him, and God is good to us. And one of the reasons some people says, Well, God hasn’t been good to me. Well, have you allowed Him to be good? Have you decided to live your life your way? You’re just going to have it your way and then you wonder. Well, you say, Well, I’m as good as other people. This has nothing to do with being good. It has to do with being obedient. And obedience says, God, I’m willing to have it, I’m willing, I’m willing to do it Your way. You have it Your way in my life; God, I’m going to trust You. And when I’m not willing to trust Him, then I’m not going to walk in His way; then I’m going to miss God’s best in my life whatever that might be.
So the key question comes is this. That is, why does God require us to wait for Him? The desires of our heart; our petitions; all the things He has promised, why do I have to wait? The waiting’s very important with Him. And to receive His clear direction for our life is one thing. It may be that God has something fantastic. Maybe next month or next year or whatever it might be, but not today. And it’s when I’ve got to have it today and when I can’t wait, watch this, oh, but suppose I lose it. Let me ask you a question. Can you lose anything that God has a circle around, put your name on it? No, you can’t lose anything. And oftentimes people get married early in life because they think, or sometime in life, you say, Well, I can’t lose this one. Listen. If that person’s not of God, you better lose it. And so, we don’t have to worry about, listen, you don’t have to worry about losing anything that God has for you. If you will obey Him, walk in His way and His timing, when the time comes you’ll have it.
And so, I must have clear direction. And three times in the hundred and nineteenth Psalm, look there for a moment. Verse seventy-four says, "May those who fear You see me and be glad, because I wait for Your word". Now what? He’s just not waiting. He says, I’m waiting for God to speak. I’m waiting for clear direction. And I wonder how many times you face decisions in your life that you honestly go to the Father and ask Him to give you direction and you wait till He answers that. Listen, you have the Holy Spirit living within you. He’s the compass. He’s the guide. He’s the director. He’s the one who has all the information that you and I need to live a godly life every day and to live it obediently.
So if our goal in life is what it is with God, to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, to walk in His way, to do His will; because the truth is, we should so live every day that people who meet us, listen, people who meet you should meet Jesus. It doesn’t mean you look like Him. It doesn’t mean any of that; but it means the spirit within you is the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And He will do all kind of things in your life that you could never imagine if you’ll just allow Him the privilege of living in you His life; living it through you on His timing. On His schedule, not someone else’s schedule.
So, He says clear direction is very important. Now, secondly, when I think about a why God requires us to wait, a second reason is, to keep us in step with His timing. There is no way for me to out-guess God. Well, here’s what I’m going to do and I think it’ll all turn out right. No, I may make specific requests to God and have assurance that He will do it. But then I also have to leave the schedule to Him. People say, Well, I prayed and asked God to do thus and so, and I got a confirmation He was going to do it. And they expect God to do it right then. It may be, listen, it may be that what you’ve asked Him is right in the center of God’s will, but you have to also give Him the privilege to give to you what you’ve asked for when He knows you’re ready. And sometimes you’re not ready. God’s timing is perfect because He doesn’t make any mistakes. You know why? He created time; and placed us in this capsule of time.
And so we live it out, and He has the best for us if we’re willing to do it His way. And sometimes, He waits to give us what we ask for because He tests our faith. And so I would ask you, When you ask the Lord, do you pray in faith trusting Him to do what He says He will do? Well, yes and no. And oftentimes we don’t trust Him. And so He delays certain blessings because He wants us to trust Him, that if He said He would do it, He would do it. Now if the only way for me to believe that is He promised it, well, let me see it. If I can’t see it I don’t have it. Yes, listen. We all have blessings from God He’s promised us. We haven’t seen them yet. Then this waiting process sometimes is a season for strengthening our faith, and I think about what strengthens my faith? Having to wait.
You see, we’re interested in self-gratification and we want it right now. God says, No. Oftentimes this is not the time for it. And the waiting period with God is often motivated by a desire to sift our motives for our desires. Why do I want that? Why do you want that position? Why are you asking God for that? He sifts our motives. And have you not agreed at some points in life, you’ve said, Lord, I know I asked You for that. Forget that prayer, that was selfish. That was lust. That was this, that was that. That was not Your will and purpose for my life. And so God delays His way because He wants to bring us around to His viewpoint. What is He up to in our life? Now, how are we to wait for God’s timing? This is how most people wait, impatiently. I want it now. Nervously, Ohhhh, suppose I lose it. Complaining, Well, why can’t things work out for me? Questioning, God, am I sure I heard You right? Frustrated; irritated; miserably; trying to manipulate God. That’s the way they wait, and that is not how God wants us to wait.
So, how should we wait? Now, I’ve put all these scriptures on the mag screens so you wouldn’t have to look them up. How should we wait? We should wait patiently. And the scripture’s up yonder there, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him". We are to wait quietly, Psalm sixty-two, one and five, "My soul waits quietly for God only". I’m trusting Him. I’m waiting upon Him. We’re to wait trusting. "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret". We’re to wait expectantly, Psalm twenty-seven, thirteen, "I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord". Having to wait. We are to wait steadfastly in Psalm twenty-seven. We’re to wait steadfastly and courageously, "Wait for the Lord, be strong and let your heart take courage". And then we are to wait standing on God’s Word.
And listen. Look at this verse. We’re to wait standing on God’s Word, "I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His Word I hope". Now watch this. You will not wait for God if this book is closed in your life. You’re just naturally going to make decisions. I can handle this. I can handle that. And the truth is none of us can handle much in the society in which we live. He says, I wait standing upon the Word of God. And so what does that mean? That I’m in the Word and I’m listening to what God says. I’m committed to being obedient to Him. And by His grace and strength and power, I will wait for His timing, knowing that His timing is always best in my life.
So look at your life and ask yourself the question, Lord, God, have I missed it? Remember, people say, Well does God give us a second chance? God gives us, listen, I’ve had a lot more than two chances and so have you. We’ve all made mistakes. But here’s what he’s simply saying to us. He says, You’re standing on the Word. What happens? God is continually reminding us that we’re to be obedient to Him.
Now listen. The wisest thing you can do, and I’ve already said this once so I’ll say it again on purpose. The wisest thing you can do is make a decision from this point on here’s how I’m going to begin my day. I’m going to connect before I get out of bed. Lord, I thank You that You have a plan for my life today. I thank You, Lord, that Your timing is perfect. I thank You that You’ll bring into my life whatever You need to bring. You’ll protect me; You’ll guide me; You’ll lead me. If I go through any kind of suffering and hurt and disappointment and all the rest, I’ll trust You to bring me through that. But Lord I want to thank You that today I’m going to walk obediently before You. I’m going to trust the Holy Spirit to do the speaking in me; to give me guidance and direction. And give me Your timing, whatever You have for me, I’m available to wait. I know that waiting will grow me up, strengthen me, prepare me for what You have. I want to thank You for this day. And Lord, let my life be fruitful all day long.
You begin the day that way and all of a sudden your days on the cloudiest day you’ve ever seen, sun’s going to be brilliant. You know why? Because you are connected with the Father; and He will answer every single prayer that I mentioned in all of that. It’s His timing; it’s His way; it’s His plan. So I’d simply ask you a question. Have you lived this part of your life without Christ? Many of you have and so if you have, what’s your future plan? Keep living this way, without Christ in your life? If so, here’s what you’re saying. God, my creator, sustainer, provider, I don’t need You. I can handle it. How foolish. You’re saying, I’m going to live out my life. You don’t know how long you’ll live. I’m going to live out my life and one of these days I figure I’ve been better than other folks so You’re going to take me to heaven. Forget that, you’ll be terribly disappointed forever. That’s not the way life is. This is life.
God created you and He’s made it possible for the death of His Son at the cross to pay your sin debt in full. He is willing to forgive your sins, to cleanse you. He is willing to wipe all the past out. He’s willing to take your mistakes and your faults and the things that you look at in your life that don’t belong there. He’s willing to forgive you, wipe them away and give you a brand new beginning. This is why Paul said, If any person be in Christ, that is related to Him, all things are passed away and behold all, all things have become new.
You can begin life again right where you are. If you’ve messed it up this long, at least end right. Amen? At least end right with Jesus Christ in your life. That’s the kind of awesome God He is. But you say, Well, I’m just twenty-five. What? Then I hope you’ve listened to everything you’ve heard, because you desperately need it. This is a wicked, vile, sinful, corrupt world. Everywhere you turn, it’s all there. Who is your protector? There is only one. That’s almighty God; and He’s there for us if we’ll trust Him.
Father, how grateful we are that You love us. We can’t even begin to express it. But I pray that every person who hears this message and every person seated here will stop and give some serious thought about how they’re living their life; what their plans are; and how involved You are in their plans. And whether it’s Your plan or their plan. And be willing to make whatever changes are necessary in order to live out life at its best with You. And we pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.