Amen All By Myself, Discovering God in Life’s Wilderness
by Sherwood Carthen, with Phil & Linda Sommerville (out of print)
I pressed “1” for English. Next, I pressed “3” for account information. I kept pressing buttons as I worked through the phone tree, but I wasn’t getting answers to my questions. So finally, in frustration, I pressed “0.” A recorded voice came on the line and said, “Please remain on the line and your call will be answered in the order in which it was received.”
I had to make a choice. I could stay on the line, hang up and try again, or throw the phone across the room. It was a close call, but I stayed on the line. I knew that if I hung up and called again I’d only get moved to the end of the line and have to start the process all over again.
There are times in life when it feels like God has put us on hold. These are wilderness times and during these times you have to make a choice. Either you can hang in there, or you can hang up on God and smash your future against the wall. I’m praying you choose not to hang up.
The problem is that we belong to a culture that hates delay. Corporations expect immediate results and so do our churches. Delay is viewed as a bad thing, and when there is a delay, we assume someone has failed. When a church faces a delay they’ll often say, “the devil must be at work.” But I don’t see this in the Bible. I see the opposite. I see delay as a biblical theme.
The Bible is filled with examples of people that God put on hold:
- Noah was told to build an ark – but it was as many as 100 years before the flood came.
- Abraham was told he would become the father of nations – but he waited 25 years before his elderly wife conceived.
- David was annointed as the next king of Israel – but he had to wait 15 years before he was appointed king.
- Isaiah prophesied about a coming Messiah – but it was 700 years before Jesus came.
- Jesus was baptized and ready to fulfill his purpose – but the Spirit took him into the wilderness for 40 days before He began His public ministry.
- The Apostle Paul had a powerful conversion experience – but he spent years in obscurity before Barnabas found Paul and helped him launch his ministry.
- Jesus promised to come again – but 2,000 years later we still wait expectantly for that moment to come.
Delay is a common theme in the Bible. We should expect it, but I don’t know many people who do. Most of us want success – and we want it NOW! We want answers – and we want them NOW! We want to be delivered – and we want it NOW! But thanks be to God that He loves us too much to give us what we want – NOW!
The truth is we will learn more through delay than through deliverance. God has important lessons to teach us, lessons we will never learn if He instantly delivers us. We need this time of delay for God to prepare us so we’ll be ready when it’s “show time.”
If you’ve hung up on God, you can still get back on the line. God has not given up on you or on the plans He has for you, but you’ll need to go back to the wilderness and give God as much time as He needs to prepare you. Better yet – don’t hang up on God at all. Then you won’t have to make up the time recovering from your mistakes.
The lesson you need to learn is that your time in the wilderness has a purpose. So, when God puts you on hold, DON’T HANG UP!