NUMBERS 9:22-23: “Whether it was two days, a month, or a year that the cloud remained above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would remain encamped and not journey; but when it was taken up, they would journey. At the command of the LORD they remained encamped, and at the command of the LORD they journeyed; they kept the charge of the LORD, at the command of the LORD by the hand of Moses.” NKJV
OBSERVATION: Have you ever missed the timing of the Lord? Have you ever grown so impatient waiting for God’s answer that you moved ahead and tried to help Him fulfill your request? I have done both of these things. They say hindsight is 20-20. I wish I had understood the timing of the Lord at a younger age!
I was 26 years old and on fire for the Lord. I had spent the last 3 years pastoring a wonderful congregation in Mt. Baldy, California. When we started there were less than 12. Our attendance grew to fill the little mountain chapel. Most of the people would make the drive from the neighboring valley communities to join us for worship. God’s was blessing our ministry.
In my youth I thought – “What if our church was in one of the towns down the hill? Surely then our growth would explode!” So, in my youth, and in my presumption, I resigned as the pastor of this wonderful mountain church and planted a church down the hill. I really was sure that I was following the leading of the Lord.
We had a great start as far as church plantings go. We were an independent work and had no finances or support from a denomination. We began meeting in a school auditorium. I bought a sound system, printed cards, and we were off and running. Our attendance would run between 35-50 on a Sunday. This new church was plugging along for about 3 months when I heard the word of the Lord.
There are a few times when the Lord has spoken to me in a way that might as well have been an audible voice. It wasn’t, but the message was so crystal clear I knew it was not my imagination. I heard the Lord speak to my heart and ask – “What are you doing?” I thought this was a very strange question. Of course my answer was – “I am planting a church for Your glory.” And, then the message came to me again crystal clear – “Did I ask you to do that?”
This was one of the most humbling moments in my life. I knew the answer. Yet, I struggled within myself to admit the truth. The truth of the matter is that God did not ask me to do this. I did this out of my own enthusiasm and the presumption of my youth. I was so focused on planting a growing church that I forgot to ask the Lord of the church if this is what He wanted me to do.
It was a humbling and sobering Sunday when I had to stand in front of everyone and tell them that I had moved in presumption when planting the church. The Lord was instructing me to close the work and help each person find a home church that they could attend, grow in, and serve – including myself. I did this and I thought that I had failed God so badly that I would never pastor again.
The truth of the matter is that I really did not fail God out of a sinful heart, I simply missed His timing. Timing in life is everything. And the story of the Lord’s cloud by day and fire by night teach us this very important lesson of waiting upon the Lord. I will never know what might have happened if I had waited on the Lord. Yet, in the years that followed, I finally learned the importance of this truth.
Imagine what the children of Israel felt like. God had promised to lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet, He told them to only move when He lifted His presence from the Tabernacle. Sometimes the cloud or pillar of fire (at night) would lift from the tabernacle after only a day. Other times it would stay in the same location for a year or possibly more. It was a test of Israel’s willingness to obey the Lord in everything.
As I write these thoughts I am in the middle of launching a new ministry to serve churches with attendance under 200. I have been working on this project all my life, and in a concentrated way over the past year. When I left the church that I had planted in Texas it was with a heavy heart and an expectant heart. I thought things would move faster than they have. There were many times I was tempted to push the timetable forward. Yet, by the grace of God I have waited.
This wait is almost over. The cloud has not yet lifted, but I feel the winds blowing. In this time of waiting I have had many godly men and women speak into my life and into this project. The finished product is more of a collaboration of gifted men and women of God than simply my work. And, it is better than I could have ever hoped. What would I have sacrificed if I had rushed God’s timing?
What are you waiting for this morning? What prayers seem to be delayed? What doors have not yet opened? Before you rush ahead, break down any doors, or are tempted to throw in the towel – trust in God’s perfect timing! At 26 I thought I would never pastor again. I had the privilege of pastoring two great churches and helping with several more. I finished my pastoral ministry strong and now am ready to be launched into my next phase of ministry.
It always pays to wait on the Lord! And, as we humble ourselves before Him, He will give us the grace we need to walk in step after the leading of His Holy Spirit. Don’t be in a rush. In reality, the plans of God for your life are eternal. They don’t end when you die. They simply transition into God’s eternal plan!
- “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the LORD, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Neither faints nor is weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, And to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31 NKJV
Lord, give me the grace to wait!
In Jesus Name!