(From a past issue of Charles Stanley’s  “In Touch” magazine)

A.  Seeking God’s Will:

Phil. 4:6  “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.  Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done.”

1 John 5: 14 – 15:  “And we can be confident that He will listen to us whenever we ask Him for anything in line with His will.  And if we know He is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that He will give us what we ask for.”

B.  Waiting for an Answer:  This can be the hard part…especially when we feel we have the assurance that God is going to do what we have asked of Him, but there then comes a long period of silence…a “gap,” and it appears that God is not doing anything.

1.  These “gaps” may be short but sometimes they stretch over weeks and months

 and into years.

2.  One of the most basic lessons we must learn is trying not to “fill in” the

“gaps” that God has created in our lives.  But this can be difficult, as we cannot understand why we are not seeing answers to our prayers…and we often lack the patience to discover what God has in mind.

3.  Justifying our “filling in the gap” actions, one might as:  “Doesn’t God help

those who help themselves?”  Quite the contrary, God helps the helpless and those that wait on Him…and more than not, God has to unravel the messes we get ourselves into because we try to rush ahead to “help” God do what He is already working out in our lives for our good.

4.  Granted, there are times when you must act quickly…when an answer is

demanded.  God understands these urgent circumstances and will provide the wisdom and courage you need.  But the majority of your critical decisions are not made hastily, and the need for patience to discern God’s guidance is crucial.

C.  Why the “Gaps”?

            1.  God may be preparing us for the answer.  We may not be ready for His answer. We may need to pray through some things and think deliberately.  In the process, God frequently reveals areas of our lives that need changing or require His renewing touch.

            2.  God establishes these “gaps” in our lives to bless us…never to deprive us of anything we should have.  The “gap” may be for our protection or correction…we may have gone “off course” in our pursuit of God’s will, and God is stretching time to get our attention in order to correct our attitude or sense of direction.

            3.  God may be preparing the minds and lives of others who are involved in the answer.

            4.  And it may be a test of our faith…to give us room to grow up in our faith…to teach us to trust Him.  Sometimes we wait because God’s plan itself is not ready.  He is orchestrating His will according to His schedule, not ours, and nothing we do will force His hand.

            5.  Above all, the one exceptional factor involved in making the right choice is…waiting patiently on God (Psalm 37:7, Ps. 40:1).  While you should factor in logical calculations and sift through options, you must never forget that waiting for God’s timing is essential.

                        a.  Waiting on God is not a passive, spiritually inert experience.

b.  Waiting demands faith, courage, and self-control.  It is an affirmative act of the will that signifies your trust in God.

c.  Waiting on the Lord is a time for personal renewal  (Isaiah 40: 28-31).  It is an opportunity to discover god’s ways and truth (Psalm 25:5) with hope and courage (Psalm 27:14, Ps. 37: 1-7).  God knows what you are facing, and He is willing to assume the responsibility of providing lasting, sustaining peace in every circumstance of your life if you will do three things:

            (1) Spend time with God in worshipful prayer.  Ask Him to take control of your life and everything that is causing you to feel anxious.  Praise and worship Him.  When we do so, our focus shifts from our problems to the Problem Solver.

            (2)  Petition Him through supplication.  Tell God all about your circumstances (Phil. 4:6 – 7).

            (3)  Give thanks to God.  There is something about thanking God for your circumstances, even when you do not feel like doing so, that turns things around.  God’s ultimate objective in allowing painful situations to come into our lives is to bring us to the end of our resources.  He wants us to stop tying to meet our needs in our own strength.

D.  The Consequences of “filling in” God’s “Gaps”:  When we do not wait on God for His answer, we can get in the middle of our problem and really mess things up.  We find trouble all around us.  Then we have to back off, confess, and repent of our intrusion upon the plan of God.

            1.  One of the best example from the Bible is that of Sarai and Abram. (Review Genesis 16).  In spite of having been given a promise, they got impatient and attempted to fill in God’s time gap.  

            2.  Although having a child with a barren spouse’s handmaiden was a custom of the day, it was not God’s solution.  The result of Sarai and Abram filling in God’s “gap” was bitterness, resentment, hostility, and divisiveness…which has continued on down through the years in conflict between the Jews and Arabs.  (Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, Sarai’s handmaiden, became the “father” of the Arab nations.)

            3.  When we try to fill in “gaps” that God has created, we often hurt innocent people.  We blame someone else for our own initiative of disobedience to God.  This is what we find Sarai doing as she began to criticize Abram…and their home was in instant turmoil.

E.  Why Do we Want to Fill in the “Gaps”?

            1.  A primary reason is the influence of those around us who have good intentions.  Had having a child by Hagar been Abram’s own idea, he probably would have dismissed it, but because it was Sarai’s suggestion, Abram probably agreed to please her.  We must avoid responding positively to someone we love if it runs contrary to the will of God.  Sarai and Abram had “filled” the “gap” which god had set for their development, and they failed the test with disastrous results.

            2.  Sometimes it appears to be the logical, reasonable, rational thing to do.  But we must never get our cues from what everybody else is doing.  Not only is the world going in the wrong direction, but much of the body of Christ is not listening to God but taking cues from the world.  Just because something appears to be successful doesn’t mean it is godly.

            3.  We sometimes get impatient.  Abram and Sarai had gone ten years without a fulfillment of God’s promise that they would have a son.  Likewise, we become impatient when what is happening…or not happening…does not fit what we want or expect.  That is natural and normal, but we must remember that as Christians, we are not natural…but supernatural people.

            4.  We sometimes try to fill in God’s “gaps” because we doubt what God has said to us.  We wonder what our friends will think or we conclude that we shouldn’t have to wait so long.  We begin to doubt:  “I wonder if I really heard God right?” and we are tempted to manipulate our circumstances.

F.  God’s Response:  When we begin to fill in a “gap” that God has created, God does not move to suddenly close the “gap.”  In fact, our actions may cause Him to extend the gap.  Remember…

            God always reserves His very best for those who are willing to WAIT…even when they can see nothing happening.  Above all else, walk in simple, childlike faith and obedience to a loving Father who authors these  time “gaps” for a reason and is working on your behalf.

TRUTH TO REMEMBER:  At no time is God doing nothing in your life.  He is alwaysdoing something, and because you and I cannot see it happening does not mean that God is not at work.