So, I have a confession to make: I really love cheese. Cheddar, bleu, feta, homemade ricotta, pimiento – name a cheese, and my eyes will light up. When I was six or seven, I was no different. One afternoon before Christmas when I was about that age, a savory smell filled our home, and I moseyed to the kitchen to see what was going on. After spotting a mixture of sausage and cheese and seeing my mom in her apron, portable phone held to her ear by her shoulder, I realized we’d soon have a Christmas classic: sausage balls.
I (literally) couldn’t wait have some.
Think back to your early years. Your mom was always on the phone when you had a groundbreakingly-important question for her, wasn’t she? I bet you received terrorizing looks upon whispering, miming, and/or writing requests for a snack or to go to your friend’s house, and I’m sure you became all too familiar with the agony of waiting an eternity for her to hang up. On that dreary winter day, in an attempt to avoid a delay and being silently shushed, I saw no harm in helping myself to some of the shredded cheddar cheese I loved so much.
I’ll never forget the look of horror on my mom’s face as she turned from the sink and said, “I gotta go. I think Charlsie just ate raw meat.”
That made her hang up pretty fast.
That’s right – I had picked out pieces of cheese from the sausage mixture, totally unaware it hadn’t been cooked yet. I’ll spare you the rest of the (embarrassing) details, but I think you get the point – there’s a right time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3).
As promised, I’ll discuss Isaiah 30:18-19 more today, but before I do, I want to share Psalm 84:11:
“For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
In my first-grade mind, that cheese looked, smelled, and even tasted good – nevermind the fact that it was mixed with raw sausage. I didn’t see any problem in enjoying it as it was. But my mom knew better; if she let me keep eating it, it wouldn’t have been a “good thing” for me. So like any loving parent would do, she withheld it from me until it was ready.
Do you ever feel that God is withholding things from you? I can’t lie and say that He isn’t – but the only reason that He would, is that whatever you’re hoping for and waiting on wouldn’t be a “good thing” if you received it too early. If it’s a spouse you’re waiting on, maybe the person God has chosen for you needs to work some things out (or maybe you do!). If it’s a job, an award, or some other type of accolade, maybe there are some things in your heart that God needs to show you, some lessons to be learned before you can steward those well.
We learned last week from Isaiah 30:18 that God will wait to be gracious to us, and this week, I’ll try to answer why.
That verse actually refers to a time when the Israelites had blatantly disobeyed God. He had previously told them:
“In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength…” (v15)
And they said:
“No; for we will flee upon horses…We will ride upon the swift…” (v16)
So God replied:
“Therefore shall ye flee…therefore shall they that pursue you be swift. One thousand shall flee at the rebuke of one; at the rebuke of five shall ye flee…” (v16-17)
God already had a plan of salvation for the Israelites. And He hadn’t kept it a secret! But they didn’t think His plan was good enough. They thought of something “better,” and God, in His Sovereignty, allowed them to go their own way for a while. So what was He waiting on? For them to turn back to Him, which is where last week’s verse comes in:
“And therefore will the Lord wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the Lord is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him.For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.” (vv18-19)
Remember the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-20? The dad in that parable was waiting for (and ended up running towards!) his son when he came home. God is waiting for us in the same way. He’s not angry with us (Psalm 103:8-9), and because of the new covenant we’re living in, He remembers our sin no more (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Is it possible that there are things in our lives that we need to repent for? Absolutely. Is it possible that we haven’t sinned in a certain area and just need some preparation before receiving something? Definitely. We can rest assured if we’re praying for God to reveal areas of disobedience in our lives, He will. The end of Psalm 139 offers a great prayer for this:
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”
God is able to show us where we’re wrong so that we can become more like Him. And He does so gently. Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts and brings a solution, while the enemy condemns and brings a sense of defeat.
So what do we do with all this?
- As I said last week in Receiving in Faith, trust that God’s heart towards you is good. Acknowledge that His ways and thoughts are higher than yours (Isaiah 55:8), and purpose in your heart to trust His timing even if you don’t understand yet why you’re waiting (Proverbs 3:5-6).
- There are TONS of verses about “waiting on the Lord” – find one and meditate on it! In many of the verses in the Psalms about waiting on God, the Hebrew word means “to bind together” and “to expect.” So cling to God and expect “good things” from Him.
- Lastly, and this might be most important: remember that God isn’t a transactional God. It’s not “do this, then receive that.” That’s not the point. The point is to cultivate a daily, walking-with-Him, asking-Him-to-lead-you-and-make-you-more-like-Him relationship. Seek first His kingdom (Matthew 6:33), believing that walking with Him is better than any earthly gift you could receive.
I’ll be praying for you as you trust in His timing and cling to Him! I’d love to hear any other specific ways to pray, so feel free to email or comment!
And if you want this week’s lock-screen, let me know 🙂