Whether we study the Bible, the history of Israel, or the church, there’s a consistent theme that reappears in each: God likes to take his time in doing his will, but he’s never late in doing it. This means that often (very often) God prefers to wait until the last minute, the fifty-ninth minute of the eleventh hour, to answer our prayers and bring about his will and purposes.
That God likes to do it this way is not hard to prove. Just read the hundreds of books written by Christians throughout the ages describing the characteristic of God. God lets us wait and wait (and wait some more) until the very last second before opening up the door or catching us in our fall.
But why? It may seem like unnecessary drama to us, but it seems to fit God’s character and historical pattern perfectly. What we can all notice after going through one of these spiritual roller-coaster rides is this: it’s in those last moments or hours of expectant waiting that our faith takes on new dimensions. We are being stretched as we near the end.
If God answered our prayers of desperation the very moment we prayed (which he sometimes does), it’s likely we wouldn’t grow very much. But if God lets us hang on in fervent prayer for an extended period of time, causing us to recognize that we are totally dependent upon him and not ourselves, then he accomplishes something he doesn’t in another way.
Also, because of our fallen, disobedient nature, there’s something about us that we are very slow to admit. When we find our own way out of some kind of trouble, we tend to think it was really thanks to our own skill or cleverness. If there is the slightest doubt that it might have been God who helped us, we usually lean toward self-congratulation rather than humble praise and thankful submission to our Rescuer.
But if God waits until the very last second, after allowing every possible attempt on our part to get ourselves out of the jam, then we are more apt to see the divine hand in the whole business. God chooses this path for many of us because he wants us to recognize his perfect plan and purpose for our lives,
In such life experiences, the Creator makes his favorite point once again: “I’m God, and you aren’t. I am in charge of your life, and you aren’t. I have a purpose for your life, and now it’s time for you to pay attention!”
So the next time God takes his own sweet time in coming your way, just thank him for making his presence known and clear, for doing it his way, and for training you to meet the challenge ahead. Just say yes to his call to serve him. Abandon your own private kingdom and follow him into his.
TJ Bates leads our prayer journeys on Theology Mix. A close friend of our admin staff, she's one of the most Christ-centered, hospitable, down-to-earth, fun, prayerful persons you will ever meet. TJ has spent her life devoted to serving God (knows everything you need to know about pastors, churches, and their ministries), and will drop everything and travel anywhere her help is needed. Everyone needs a TJ in their lives!