Waiting in tough transitions
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In our yard we have a number of trees. During this time of year they are losing their leaves. Our children, in an attempt to keep up with the falling leaves, occasionally spend some of their playtime attempting to rake them up. However, they quickly get overwhelmed by the workload and give up.
On one of these occasions, as they were remarking about how many leaves there were, my middle daughter asked me why I hadn’t joined in their raking exploits. I told our middle daughter to look up: while there was an innumerable amount of leaves on the ground, there were still just as many leaves still on the trees awaiting the right breeze or the continued process of the season change to knock them down to the ground.
Despite what they saw around them, I was trying to encourage them to exercise patience; waiting, even in the midst of seemingly overwhelming times, will, in the end, prove to be better for you. I told her, “I’m going to wait until more leaves are down to start raking the leaves.”
That got me to thinking, though: how many of us, in the midst of trials around us, lose our patience with the process? Oftentimes, for many of us, as seasons change in our lives, we get uncomfortable and impatient with the transitions.
Perhaps we’re like my girls, overwhelmed by what we see around us. We want to get through with it so we can move on to what’s next. However, also like my daughters, if we don’t look up and exhibit patience, we will find ourselves, in the end, doing more work and exerting more energy, all while still having to wait for the transition to be completed.
There is power in patience, particularly in waiting on the Lord. Conversely, there can be a detriment when we step outside of our given lane or rush things ourselves. In I Samuel 13, King Saul found himself in the middle of a difficult transition, a time when the circumstances seemed overwhelming.
He and three thousand men were engaged in a battle against the Philistines. They were initially successful in their pursuits, but quickly found themselves overwhelmed by the Philistine army, which mustered up a counter-offensive that was much stronger than what the Israelites could handle. This threat was so bad that the Israelites were hiding in caves, holes, rocks, and even tombs (I Samuel 13:6).
It’s at this point that Saul grows overwhelmed by the circumstances around him, loses his patience and steps outside of his role. He waits seven days, the appointed time frame given to him by the prophet, but when Samuel doesn’t appear to be showing up, Saul takes it upon himself to offer sacrifices to the Lord, seeking to curry God’s hand to deal with the overwhelming circumstances he’s faced with.
Afraid of the mass desertion of his soldiers, Saul decided to slay the sacrificial animals before engaging the enemy and to attack rather than wait for the prophet Samuel to come and offer the sacrifices. This was a violation of the prophet’s orders and outside of the scope of his role as king. In fear of what was around him, Saul tried to do it himself instead of waiting on God’s servant – a representative of God who was there to aid him.
And just as soon as Saul was done offering this unlawful sacrifice, Samuel shows up. The prophet says to Saul, “What have you done?” Note Saul’s response (I Samuel 13:11-12): “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 Micmash, 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.”
What has caused you to try and force God’s hand or rush Him? Don’t allow the seemingly overwhelming circumstances around cause you not to wait on the Lord. Like my daughters, you could be producing additional unnecessary labor. Or, like Saul, you could find yourself facing more detrimental consequences; Saul’s disobedience as the Lord’s lieutenant, assuming more authority than was his, caused the end to his family’s reign as king. Matthew Henry notes, “Saul lost his kingdom for want of two or three hours’ patience.”
I know what is around you may feel overwhelming. But I want to encourage you to continue to wait on God and not try to be God. The season will continue, things will fall into place, and continued patience and obedience will win in the end.