When God tells us, “Not yet.”
There’s not a whole lot of us that probably likes being told to wait, right? I know my own kids don’t. When one of my kids comes up to me and asks to go somewhere or do something and I tell them that the time is not appropriate, they get impatient, frustrated, and sometimes they have a meltdown.
We can do that sometimes to. Perhaps more often than we think. We pray to God for answers and he seems so slow to deliver. We pray to God to give us what our hearts want but his timing doesn’t match with ours, or, he gives us something else instead. What I want to do tonight is take a look at why God might give us the answer we weren’t expecting or hoping for at times and why this can be a good thing.
DMs from God will focus on hypothetical messages we receive from God in the midst of a thousand voices vying for our attention. That’s what we’ll jump into for the next few weeks.
Let’s be honest, for those of you with social media, texting, email, or whatever form of messaging you may have, we get all kinds of messages that spark all kinds of emotions in us. Sometimes the messages are kind to us, sometimes they are simply unwanted, sometimes they are not what we wanted at all, sometimes they are nerve-wracking, sometimes they are bad news, and sometimes they are scams. Whatever it is, someone or something is trying to get us to take their message personal.
While all of this is happening, God is trying to speak to us and all we have to do is open His Word and boom, there he is. Imagine waking up in the morning to a text message or a message on Snapchat or Instagram from God saying, “Good Morning! Just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone today and I’ll be with you through all your battles.” We would feel good, right?
But, what happens, after praying one night for God to remove our enemies from our lives, heal our loved ones, or give us what we’ve been asking for (kindly), and God sends us a DM in the morning that says, “Not yet”? How would we feel? What do we do with this? Why does God give us such answers at times? How is this good?
You know, throughout the Bible, tons of people have tried to go ahead of God. They’ll receive an answer from God or God won’t come through quick enough for them, and then they’ll proceed with their plans anyway. It usually doesn’t end up well for them or they find out that they ended up bargaining for something less than what they could have had. Tons of people have tried to force the answers they are looking for and end up in places they wish they never ended up in to begin with! Tons of people have receive the ‘not yet’ from God and have decided to try ‘life’ on their own (kinda like Sarah in the Bible).
I think you get the point. So, where do we go from here? I want to propose three things to you as a framework to take with you whenever you encounter these responses from God. Here they are:
1. When we wait, God is doing something in us. John Ortberg once said, “What God does in us while we wait is as important as what we are waiting for.” Does God know what we want? Yes! Is God threatened by what we ask for? No! Is God surprised at our requests? No! Does God enjoy seeing our responses to him when he says ‘no’ or ‘not yet’? Of course not!
But, you know, one of the things I’ve learned (and am still learning) is that God has us waiting for two reasons: one, so that he can do some major heart surgery on us while we wait, and two, we’re not ready to handle what we’re asking for at times. I know it seems harsh when we hear that but it’s true. There have been plenty of times when I’ve asked God to do such and such and God says, “Not yet because I need to work on you spiritually.” He wants us to want him more than what we are asking for. If everything is thrown at us as we ask, will we ever really depend on God? There have been times when I’ve asked God to remove obstacles in my life and God says, “No, I think you really need to learn to deal with these things right now. If you don’t, you won’t appreciate what I have in store for you and you won’t be equipped to deal with adversity later on.”
2. When we don’t wait and we manipulate, we get in tons of trouble. Lynn Cowell once said, “God give me faith to wait and not manipulate. To trust you fully, no matter how my circumstances may appear.” I’m going to get really honest with you here: I’m not patient. And neither are you. We want answers now. We want results now. We want that job now. We want that college and not that one. We want a certain type of spouse. We want this and we want that and we try to produce those outcomes but at such great peril. In other words, we THINK we know what we want but God knows our hearts better than we do. He has other plans. Make no mistake, sometimes God gives us what we ask for because we knows we’re stubborn enough to not let it go but we may have bargained for something greater.
Remember Sarai in the Bible? She wanted a baby on her own terms and time. God said ‘not yet.’ So Sarai told her husband to sleep with her maid so that maybe Sarai can get a family through her. He did and out comes Ishmael…fast forward, in Genesis 17, God basically tells Abraham that, I’m still going to establish my covenant with Isaac, who will come along about this time of year next year…when Sarai is wicked old. Thank God he showed grace here though! However, we can’t manipulate God’s plan for our lives. He’s so much bigger and greater than that.
3. Is God God or is he not? In other words, if God didn’t see the bigger picture, didn’t have the full perspective, and wasn’t really in control of every little detail of our circumstances, would he still be God? I mean, isn’t this what makes him God? One of the great truths we forget is that we exist within time and God exists outside of time. We feel like something bad will happen when certain things don’t go our way but God sees days, weeks, months, and years ahead of us and truly knows what will happen. God sees the outcome already; we don’t.
Have you ever thought about what it means to ask for the things we ask for? Most of our requests are an effort to move pieces in our lives so that we can live comfortably and with certainty. It doesn’t mean our requests are bad; it just means that we hate living in the unknown and the discomfort. So, we ask God to play a little chess here to provide some balance. What if God says ‘no’ or ‘not yet’? What if he wants us to live in our current circumstances so that we would trust him more? What if God is asking us to trust that he’ll make the right moves on the chess board? What if God is asking us to surrender our turn and allow him to take over?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!”
Galatians 6:9 says, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”