Read: Psalm 106:13 |
A grandfather found his grandson, jumping up and down in his playpen, crying at the top of his voice. When Johnnie saw his grandfather, he reached up his little chubby hands and said, “Out, Grampa, out.”
Naturally, the grandfather started to lift the little fellow out of his predicament. The mother of the child stepped up and said, “No! Johnnie, you are being punished, so you must stay in!”
The grandfather was at a loss of what to do. Here was a problem of love versus the law of what is best. The grandfather could not take the youngster out of the playpen, so he crawled in with him. Love found a way. [Fred W. Parsons, These Times, March 1969]
In this case, little Johnnie was in “time-out” for misbehaving. However while waiting for God’s answer to our prayers, whether we are misbehaving or not, God can choose to allow things in our lives which make us feel “penned up”.
The Apostle Paul’s life gives us a great example. During Paul’s ministry, he spent nearly six years in prison. Forced to wait for his day in court, Paul freely chose to accept God’s plan for him. The Lord Himself told Paul to “take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome” (Acts 23:11).
Taking God’s message seriously, he worked and witnessed while waiting in prison. Physically, he was not free. Spiritually, however, God set him at liberty to continue working for the Kingdom from his prison cell! Love found a way.
Paul teaches us that while waiting with God, we need to work for him either on the front lines or in support of those who are on the front lines.
Work on the Front-line while you wait
Paul worked on the front-line for Christ even while unjustly imprisoned.
The front line is where we share our beliefs directly with others. While physically confined, Paul prayed and testified about the freedom we have in Christ.
In fact from Paul’s first internment in Caesarea, through his shipwreck on the way to Rome and in Rome itself, Paul was on the front line. He explained his faith with each Roman official who held him captive on flimsy charges. He testified to his shipmates. He made eloquent appeals with his house guests to accept Christ while under Roman house arrest.
Paul understood that within God’s plan, he had to go to Rome in order to fulfill his purpose. While in Rome for two years, Paul “… proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ—with all boldness and without hindrance!” (Acts 28:31)
Sometimes, God will also call us to endure waiting within difficult situations as part of His greater plan. Trust that God will never put more on us than we can bear (I Corinthians 10:13; Romans 5:3-5). Keep seeking His will and working while waiting for God’s answer.
Work on the Support Line while you wait
Incarcerated, Paul could no longer be a “world traveler” and set out on missionary journeys. He chose to wait patiently with God in his assigned role in prison.
Through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost and his love for God, he found another way to carry out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19,20). Inspired and liberated in his spirit, he wrote the prison epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. These letters conveyed instruction, correction and training in righteousness for the initial audience and for us. (2 Timothy 3:16,17)
In our lives, when our situation is in suspension while we await God’s reply, respond by being an overcomer. Overcome the urge to succumb to the bondage that seeks to bind our beliefs. Walk and work by faith.
As we walk by faith, allow God to prod our souls in the direction of how we can support His plan. If unable to work on the front line, strive to stay engaged in the work of God in support of those who do share directly with others.
We can be on the Support line in our churches by serving as an usher or singing in the choir or greeting people at the door. We can even blog (pun intended)! Seek God to find your role.
Paul’s letters make it clear that though he was a prisoner of Rome, his captivity was to Christ (Philemon 1:9; Ephesians 3:1; Colossians 4:18; Philippians 1:12–14).
While waiting, let us recognize the potential ‘dungeon of doubt’—wondering when the answer will come. Like Paul, let us not succumb to dormancy. Rather, following the example of his faithfulness, continue working while awaiting the Lord’s answer.
1. Discover –
A. Have you ever felt imprisoned and in a “dungeon of doubt” – wondering when the answer will come? Share with your prayer partner.
B. Do you ever feel oppressed or depressed while waiting? Do you tend to resist the temptation to give up or do you give in to the feelings? Share with your prayer partner.
2. Develop –
A. Have you grown in your ability to handle the stress and strain of waiting for God to answer your prayers? How did you get better?
B. What coping mechanisms have you admired in others that have endured challenging circumstances? What can you model from their responses?
3. Demonstrate –
A. Would your response to God’s instructions to wait for His answer be a model for others?
B. Are you able to still work on the front line, when you are going through a stressful waiting period? How are you able to park your fears, and walk your talk? Share some answers below that may help others in their walk in Christ.
Profiles on Waiting Outline
Postures we should adopt when waiting for/with/upon God
1. Wait on Time (link)
2. Watch for Him (link)
3. Wait by walking within Touching Distance (link)
4. Work while waiting upon God’s Answer (link)
5. Willful Waiting does not Wilt (link)
6. Weather the Storms while waiting under His Umbrella (link)
7. Wait with an Unwavering Faith (link)