Bad Timing

Reasons We Don’t Wait

By Charles F. Stanley
  • September 30, 2017

Learning to listen to the Lord is an important lesson for all of us. Otherwise, we can’t obey Him because we won’t know what He would have us do. Furthermore, we need to know God’s timing because it’s perfect, even though it may seem slow from our perspective. But if we jump ahead of God, we’ll miss the blessings He has for us.

In Genesis 12:1-3, the Lord spoke to Abraham, saying, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Like us, Abraham wasn’t perfect, but made mistakes as he walked with God. He was told to leave his family, but he brought his nephew Lot with him, which later resulted in problems causing them to separate (Gen. 13:1-13). On another occasion, Abraham jumped ahead of God (Gen. 16:1-16). Although the Lord had promised that he would have a son and his descendants would be as numerous as the stars, Abraham was getting older, and there was still no son.

After living ten years in the land of Canaan, Abraham’s wife Sarah came up with a plan to speed up God’s promise. She suggested that he have a son through her Egyptian maid, Hagar. The reason Hagar was in the household was because of a previous detour from God’s will that Abraham had taken when he moved to Egypt to escape a famine. Now he jumped ahead of God and did what Sarah suggested. However, when Hagar conceived, conflict and trouble entered the household. Through their scheming, Ishmael was born, but he was not the son God had promised.

Because of impatience and an unwillingness to wait for God, Sarah obtained a son through Hagar, but she also received many days of conflict, strife, heartache, and trials. Eventually she conceived her own son with Abraham when he was 100 years old (Gen. 21:1-5). The Lord delayed this son’s arrival for so long because He wanted them to realize that Abraham’s promised lineage would only come through a miraculous act of God.

Have you ever jumped ahead of God? There are many reasons one might feel pressured to do so. Consider these situations:

  • We listen to other people instead of the Lord.

  • We are deceived by appearances rather than making choices based on the will of God.

  • We become impatient and impose a time limit on the Lord.

  • We are afraid of failure or the possibility that we’ll miss out on something if we don’t act now. In reality, we never miss anything by obeying the Lord. He alone knows the future and can guide us in the right direction. Furthermore, He sees our weaknesses and leads us in ways that protect us and keep us from stumbling. However, God doesn’t outline His entire plan so we can see it from beginning to end, but He guides us one step at a time. Sometimes His path includes suffering, heartache, and loss, but it’s also filled with His peace, joy, and contentment.

  • The problem could be unbelief. Perhaps we don’t believe that God has a plan for our individual lives. But if we discount God’s will for us, then we must conclude that everything is just an accident, including the fact that we are alive. Then we can’t rely on God for anything, but must depend wholly upon ourselves and our own wisdom and strength.

We must learn to rest in God’s timing if we want to be spared the unpleasant complications that come with taking matters into our own hands. By dedicating ourselves to God’s Word and prayerfully obeying His direction, we will guard ourselves against getting ahead of God in the future.

This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message “Getting Ahead of God, which aired this past weekend on TV.

Related Topics:  Obedience  |  Listening to God  |  Patience

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1 Now the LORD said to Abram, Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father's house, To the land which I will show you;

2 And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;

3 And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed."

1 So Abram went up from Egypt to the Negev, he and his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot with him.

2 Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold.

3 He went on his journeys from the Negev as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,

4 to the place of the altar which he had made there formerly; and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

5 Now Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents.

6 And the land could not sustain them while dwelling together, for their possessions were so great that they were not able to remain together.

7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. Now the Canaanite and the Perizzite were dwelling then in the land.

8 So Abram said to Lot, Please let there be no strife between you and me, nor between my herdsmen and your herdsmen, for we are brothers.

9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me; if to the left, then I will go to the right; or if to the right, then I will go to the left."

10 Lot lifted up his eyes and saw all the valley of the Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere-- this was before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah--like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go to Zoar.

11 So Lot chose for himself all the valley of the Jordan, and Lot journeyed eastward. Thus they separated from each other.

12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom.

13 Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.

1 Now Sarai, Abram's wife had borne him no children, and she had an Egyptian maid whose name was Hagar.

2 So Sarai said to Abram, Now behold, the LORD has prevented me from bearing children. Please go in to my maid; perhaps I will obtain children through her." And Abram listened to the voice of Sarai.

3 After Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, Abram's wife Sarai took Hagar the Egyptian, her maid, and gave her to her husband Abram as his wife.

4 He went in to Hagar, and she conceived; and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her sight.

5 And Sarai said to Abram, May the wrong done me be upon you. I gave my maid into your arms, but when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her sight. May the LORD judge between you and me."

6 But Abram said to Sarai, Behold, your maid is in your power; do to her what is good in your sight." So Sarai treated her harshly, and she fled from her presence.

7 Now the angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur.

8 He said, Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from and where are you going?" And she said, I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai."

9 Then the angel of the LORD said to her, Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority."

10 Moreover, the angel of the LORD said to her, I will greatly multiply your descendants so that they will be too many to count."

11 The angel of the LORD said to her further, Behold, you are with child, And you will bear a son; And you shall call his name Ishmael, Because the LORD has given heed to your affliction.

12 He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him; And he will live to the east of all his brothers."

13 Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You are a God who sees"; for she said, Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?"

14 Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi; behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram called the name of his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael.

16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to him.

1 Then the LORD took note of Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did for Sarah as He had promised.

2 So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.

3 Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.

4 Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.

5 Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

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