Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel, but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter. So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering. Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived….”What have you done?” asked Samuel….”You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said.
1st Samuel 13:7-11, 13
Waiting is tough. It’s not something that is a part of our culture anymore. We have instant everything, from rice to news. When we want something we get it, usually immediately. In the above passage, Saul and his troops were struggling with the desire for instant gratification. The Philistines were surrounding them. Saul wanted to engage and attack. Yet God said, “Wait.” Saul was initially okay with waiting. After all, God had previously commanded him to wait seven days before engaging in battle. But once his time was up, look at what happened. He couldn’t wait. His troops started to get antsy. “Does Saul really know what he’s doing?” they must have asked. Saul was the leader of the nation of Israel. He couldn’t have his men doubting his ability to lead. He couldn’t be seen sitting around on his thumbs waiting for some crackpot old man to show up while the Philistines were knocking at the door. No, Saul couldn’t wait. So, Saul acted. Assuming a role that was not his to take, Saul sacrificed to the Lord in an attempt to instill confidence in his troops and to move forward down a path he was determined to take. He must have felt pretty good about himself. After all, he solved a problem. And yet, note the first words Samuel, God’s anointed prophet, had for this mighty action-oriented king. “You have done a FOOLISH thing!”
Indeed, we often make fools of ourselves when we don’t wait upon the Lord. Our actions are many times steeped in emotion. We lash out in anger or fear and do damage to relationships that can take months or years to mend. We put a hole in our bank accounts chasing after that bright shiny “thing” we so want God to want us to have. We make impulsive decisions about our careers that leave us more stressed and beat up than we were before. The aftermath of our impulsive actions can be shame, guilt, lack of self-worth, sadness and loss. I cannot tell you the number of times God has humbled me as I’ve been rushing down the road from one place to the next. And each time I think, “I am such an idiot!”
The reality for me is that waiting on God almost always takes a lot longer than I think it should. About two and a half years ago I asked God if I could become a “for real” writer/women’s ministry worker. You see, I have had a dream of being a professional writer since I was 10 years old. The timing, however, has never been right. I’ve never felt God say, affirmatively, “Yes, take this path now.” As my teaching career has been changing over the past couple of years, I’ve been thinking more and more about pursuing this dream whole-heartedly. I’m ready to jump in. And yet, my heart has not heard that affirmative “YES!” from God. I know what I want, but I don’t know what God wants. And so, I’m compelled to wait on Him. Because the less foolish things I do, the better off my family and I will be.
Blessings and Peace,