Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Yes, No, Not Now

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio
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Psalm 27:14

“Wait for the LORD; 
be strong and take heart 
and wait for the LORD.” 

Waiting for something you want or think you want is often a frustrating. 
Questions fill our thoughts like how long do I have to wait? When will God hear my cry? Why can't the Lord just fix my situation now? Why do I have to go through this? Why won't the Lord heal me now? Why won't the Lord give me a baby today? Why won't God provide a job? Why won't God give me Mr. or Ms. Right, Why me, Why, Why?

We can begin to think God is against us, that He is punishing us for something. We might think if I am just good enough God will be pleased and answer my prayer.  In our prayers we begin to bargin with God. If you give me ______ I will make some great sacrifice.  We try to manipulate the King of the Universe.

If we are a believer the fact is that God hears us and he responds with one of three answers. Yes,  No, or not now. Clearly the Yes answer is not a problem for anyone but how do you know if God is saying "no" or a "not now"?
There is a great "Not Now" story in Daniel 10 in which Daniel has prayed and the answer to his prayer is delayed by 21 days. There was a battle between Gods messengers and a demonic force called the prince of the kingdom of Persia.  Dan 10:12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. Dan 10:13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one and twenty days:
Daniel during his time of waiting is a good example of how one can wait in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. One thing I notice in the passage above is that He set his heart to understand. In verse 3 we find out that during that time Dan 10:3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. I believe this is what it means when said earlier "chasten thyself before thy God" He chooses to spend his time waiting in self denial and prayer. I don't believe he was having a hunger strike like Ghandi to force God to do what he wanted. 

There are some spiritual disciplines that we perhaps don't practice much in our busy fast paced life. We see Daniel practicing them while he waits for God to answer His prayer.
Things like silence, solitude, self denial and prayer are meant to be ways that we get to a place of being better tuned in to God not as a way to force His hand to do our will. As we practice these disciplines of spending time in His presence it is not God who bends to our will but we who begin to be transformed to be more and more Christ like. We begin to desire what God wants. 
 
I was reading recently about the intimacy of silence. Oswald Chambers writes "Has God trusted you with a silence - a silence that is that is big with meaning? God's silences are His answers."  "It struck me that I am not very silent. Yet at the same time I there are things that I can be silent about because, I am confident that the Lord has heard me and that if his answer is No he will change my heart. If not there is some reason why the desire of my heart remains and so I can wait with confidence knowing that God is working.  Mother Teresa writes "If we really want to pray, we must first learn to listen: for in the silence of the heart God speaks." She also said " Listen in silence, because if your heart is full of other things you cannot hear the voice of today. But when you have listened to the voice of God in the stillness of your heart, then your heart is filled with God." Silence is something that she practiced daily. She says to foster and maintain a prayerful atmosphere of exterior silence one should practice the following disciplines. 
~ respect certain times and places of more strict silence
~ move about and work prayerfully, quietly and gently
~ avoid at all costs all unnecessary speaking and notice
~ speak, when we have to, softly, gently, saying just what is necessary
~ look forward to profound silence as a holy and precious time, 
   a withdrawal into the living silence of God. 
Jesus models silence for us as well. He starts his ministry with 40 days in the wilderness. No food, no friends, just silence, solitude, self denial and prayer. Through out his ministry we see he going to a quiet places to be alone with God the Father. If Jesus needed to be silent and get away from the hustle and bustle it might not be a bad idea for us to follow His example once in a while. 

Waiting is not something that most of us enjoy. It often is filled with worry, doubt and fear. I don't believe those things are the posture with which God desires for us to wait. 
I believe he is looking for us to wait in a posture of trust and hope. 
The word most often translated “wait” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew qavah. Qavah means 
(1) “to bind together” (perhaps by twisting strands as in making a rope), 
(2) “look patiently,” 
(3) “tarry or wait,” and 
(4) “hope, expect, look eagerly.”

Some folks idea of waiting is more like whining, they go from person to person pouring out their sad predicament. They won't go and talk to God directly they try to get everyone else to pray for them. They are afraid of what He might tell them. He might tell them that the answer to their request is no. God delights to give us the desires of our hearts our timelines don't generally line up with His. There is something of value in waiting. It produces character, and patience, is causes us to grow in trust, and hope. It is not a waiting while we worry that our verse today is about, this is a waiting that is filled with hope and expectation. We know God has answered and we know what He has for us will be good we just don't know when. 

Waiting is all about the passage of time. Jesus taught in Luke 18:1 in the story of the persistant widow that we should pray and not give up.  1 Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. 

If we can take our situation, our desire, our need to the Lord and lay it before Him and say "Not my will but yours Lord" then God can take that thing and give us His peace regarding it. He can tell us no this is not for you - let me change your heart. Or he can say yes this is for you - just not yet. I am working and the things that need to happen in you and others involved are not yet ready. Here let me cause patience to grow in you. Hold on to the things I have shown you. I love it that you are waiting expecting and trusting me. 

So, is Gods answer to you a "No" or a "Not Yet"? The place to find out is to go and spend time with Him. Don't just barrage Him with un-ending prayers of a hopeless lament. He does not want to join you at your pity party. What ever it is lay it before Him, lay it down at the foot of the Cross. In silence listen to what He has to tell you. 
Psalm 46:10 says " “Be still, and know that I am God;"

Prayer:
Dear Lord,  
I lay down my burden before you. I give it to you because I am weary of trying to bear it on my own. You know my heart, I have been open and honest before you. I'm sure I have not been perfect but my desire is to please you. Help me to be still, to listen to hear if you are saying "no" or "not yet". Lord if it is no, I choose to trust you to change my heart. If it is not yet let that hearts desire remain and burn brightly as I wait expecting the goodness of your provision in your time.

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