Understanding God’s timing is all about growing up in the Lord. There are times when some things should never be done, while other things must always be done. At certain times a particular action is the only proper course to take while at other times even good things are inappropriate to take because God clearly says, “not now!” Understanding God in uncertain times can help us avoid painful pitfalls and guide us into His perfect will.
I was reading some title headings in a Max Lucado book the other day and saw a chapter heading that caught my attention. Are you ready? It is going to get your mind moving today. Here it is . . . No, I want you to live in suspense just a little longer. Ok, I’m ready. It is entitled, “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Isn’t that cleaver? That is exactly what God was saying to the Israelites as they were backed up against the sea with the enemy pursuing them. Moses gave an unusual command, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Sure enough, the Lord came through and destroyed the Egyptian army without one Israelite striking a blow. They had to let the Lord do the work while quietly observing His hand of power.
I can be the first one to say that God doesn’t always choose to do things that way. But He did that day. We shouldn’t always sit quietly, letting God do all the work. This was what God wanted to do at this particular time. Unfortunately, some Christians have tried to make a complete theology out of this passage, emphasizing that God will always do the fighting for us. They say that believers are merely to watch passively for the salvation of the Lord, no matter the circumstances. If you ran with just one passage in which God overcame the enemies of the people, then we would be deceived. When it comes to being led by the Lord, there is no simple formula that applies to every situation. It is a day by day relationship that can lead us to hear the voice of God in our hearts.
When Moses directed the Israelites to stand still and observe the power of God, he was not laying down a principle to be obeyed in all situations. In the centuries that followed, it was the army of Israel that overcame the enemies by force that threatened God’s people. Only through a close relationship to God in prayer and reading His Word can we create a fertile soil for the Holy Spirit of God to show us what the Lord wants us to do. The Holy Spirit is able to lead us in every new situation. Not only is the Holy Spirit the author of Scripture and the one who convicts of sin, but He can lead us to be victorious. I know that I am not smart enough to know the will of God in every situation I encounter.
As Paul was traveling and spreading the Gospel, he had to be led by the Spirit. There were times when he wanted to go somewhere completely different than where the Spirit led him. At certain times, God alters our plans.
“6 Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. 7 When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.”
The timing was just not right. The Lord wanted to spread the Gospel somewhere else. Sometimes we may never know why. For the Israelites, each new battle meant discovering what God’s strategy for them might be. Crossing the Red Sea was the plan for victory at that particular time. The battle of Jericho is a different story.
We need to cultivate a deep relationship with God to know what His will is. Every situation is different, but each outcome is different when we are led by the Holy Spirit.
May you seek the face of the Father today in all you do. Don’t rely on past victories. Seek new ones that may call for a different direction.
I am looking forward to what God wants to do this Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!