Welcome to His Encouragement Thursday! I don’t know about you, but Thursdays are my struggle day of the week. By Thursday, I have already been working hard at school and at home, and I just wish it would hurry up and be Friday already. LOL! I definitely need a little extra Jesus time on Thursdays.
Some Hebrews crossed the fords of the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. Saul was still at Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling. He waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”1 Samuel 13:7-14 (ESV)
This past weekend during his sermon, the pastor of my church read this passage from 1 Samuel and then said, “Don’t do something stupid in the waiting time.” It made me chuckle, and then it made me think about what it means to be in the waiting time.
Right now, we are in the waiting time. We are waiting for Jesus.
Some days go by quickly especially if one is busy with work, family, and chores. But lately, even with all the stuff that needs doing on my many to-do lists, I find that time is moving … oddly. I feel like we are accelerating in time towards all the scary, while the time for Jesus to come seems to be happening at slow-mo speeds. The truth is I’m super impatient. I want Jesus to come NOW!
Motivation is the why we do something. In 1 Samuel 13:7-14, Saul is supposed to wait for Samuel to appear. Once Samuel appears he will make the offering to the Lord. BUT, Samuel doesn’t come “at the appointed time.” Who knows why Samuel was late, it actually doesn’t matter. What matters is that God gave Saul a command, but in his impatience Saul failed to obey. And why did Saul get impatient and choose to do things in HIS own way? Saul didn’t like that the people “were scattering from him.” In this matter, Saul was more concerned with himself and what the people were doing rather than what God wanted. The consequence of Saul’s disobedience would be harsh — the loss of his kingdom.
The telling moment is when Samuel says to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which He commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after His own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over His people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”
Why is this the telling moment? Because it all comes down to the heart. Saul’s heart was not for God. It was for himself. And because Saul was so self-focused and cared so much about what the people wanted and thought, Saul did something completely stupid in the waiting time — he sinned against God.
Today, we are in the waiting time. We have two choices. We can be like Saul — self-focused, impatient, stupid. Or we can just wait. We can trust that God’s got it all covered and everything is falling into place exactly as He has designed. We can trust God’s plan, even if we aren’t entirely sure how things will play out for us. To do this though, we have to take our eyes off ourselves and turn them up to Jesus.
There are a ton of verses that talk about keeping our eyes on God, but one verse I like the best is Psalm 123:1 — “To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens!” I like this verse because the psalmist is doing the work of choosing God over himself and making his eyes turn to God. He’s taking the focus off himself and looking to where his hope comes from.
If you are impatient with the waiting like me, be like the psalmist in Psalm 123 — take the focus off yourself and look up. Trust that God has you, and don’t do anything stupid in this waiting time!