Why Does God Seem To Move So Slowly?

“God Isn’t In A Hurry” By Warren W. Wiersbe

Although I was weary from a long flight, the sign on the mission guesthouse bulletin board made me laugh aloud. It said, “Lord, please make me patient—and do it right now.”

Patience was one of the first lessons we had to learn in childhood. The child who does not learn to be patient is not likely to learn much of anything else. It takes patience to be able to learn to read, to spell, to write, and to master multiplication tables. It even takes patience to grow! God has ordained that maturity is a slow process, not an instant experience; and I am glad that he arranged things that way. It gives me time to get accustomed to growing up.

Impatience is usually a mark of immaturity. At least James felt that way. “But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:4). Little children think you have arrived at your destination when you stop for the first spotlight. A short wait at the doctor’s office is unbearable. I once asked a lad in Scotland how many years he had left in school, and he replied, “I don’t know, sir. I’m just trying to get through next week.”

But adults have their share of impatience. Abraham got weary of waiting for the promised son; so he hurried and took Hagar as a second wife, and she bore him Ishmael. Moses got impatient and killed a man. This necessitated forty years of postgraduate work in the pastures of Midian. Years later, Moses became impatient again, smote the rock, and lost a trip to the Holy Land.

“Do not be like the horse or as the mule,” warns Psalm 32:9, and it is a warning that we need. The mule is stubborn and has a tendency to hold back. The horse is impulsive and wants to rush ahead. Personality differences may enter in here, but we all have the same problem—it is difficult to wait on God.

Part of the problem is that we are prone to walk by sight and not by faith. God assures us in his Word that he is busy on our behalf, but we still want to see something happen. At the exodus, the Israelites were sure that God had deserted them and destruction was on its way. Listen to that wind! See how dark it is! And yet God was working for his people in the wind and in the darkness. “All these things are against me,” cried Jacob (Gen. 42:36) when, in reality, all things were working for him.

I believe that it was F.B. Meyer who used to say, “God’s delays are not God’s denials.” They are usually the means which God uses to prepare us for something better. God is always at work for the good of his people, and he is working in all things (see Rom. 8:28). This includes the things that perplex us and that pain us. The only way God can teach us patience is to test and try us, and the only way we can learn patience is to surrender and let God have his way.

God can grow a mushroom overnight, but he will take time to grow an oak or a giant sequoia. It took him thirteen years to get Joseph ready for the prime minister’s office in Egypt, and he invested eighty years preparing Moses for forty years of service. David was a youth when Samuel anointed him king of Israel, but David had to experience a great deal of suffering before he finally ascended that throne. We are the richer for it, because out of those years of preparation came many of David’s greatest psalms.

Our Lord spent thirty years getting ready for three years of public ministry. He patiently obeyed the Father’s will as he carried out that ministry. “My hour has not yet come,” he told Mary (John 2:4). “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” he asked his impatient disciples (11:9). God has his times as well as his purposes, and to miss his times is to delay his purposes.

When I was a student in seminary, I was privileged to pastor a church on weekends. God blessed in many ways, and at one point I was tempted to leave school and devote my full-time to the church. My faculty counselor set me straight. “God has waited a long time for you to come along,” he reminded me, “and he can wait until you graduate. Don’t sacrifice the permanent for the immediate.” He was right, and today I am glad I followed his counsel.

Perhaps the hardest place to wait is in the furnace of suffering. God does not always explain what he is doing or why he is doing it. It is in the hour of suffering that we need to “imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Heb. 6:12). “For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (10:36). Knowing that the Father is near us and that he is working out his wonderful purposes ought to encourage us, but we often get impatient just the same.

“Why has God made me this way?” a suffering saint once bitterly asked her pastor. Gently, he replied, “God has not made you—he is making you.” How true! And how easy it is for us to forget this truth!

If God can make a believer patient, then God can trust that believer with whatever is in his gracious will. But the school of patience never produces any graduates, and it never grants any honorary degrees. We are always learning, always maturing. Sometimes we fail the examination even before we know what the lesson is! No matter; our loving Father is guiding us and making us more like his beloved Son, and that is all that matters.

“Lord, make me patient!” God will answer that prayer, often in ways that will startle us. “And do it right now!” That prayer he cannot answer, for even Almighty God must take time to turn clay into useful vessels. The best thing you and I can do is to stop looking at our watches and calendars and simply look by faith into the face of God and let him have his way—in his time.

About the Author:

Warren W. Wiersbe is the Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary, Warren Wiersbe is the author of more than 100 books. Billy Graham calls him “one of the greatest Bible expositors of our generation.” Interestingly, Warren’s earliest works had nothing to do with scriptural interpretation. His interest was in magic, and his first published title was Action with Cards (1944).

“It was sort of imbecilic for a fifteen-year-old amateur magician to have the audacity to write a book and send it to one of the nation’s leading magic houses,” Warren says. But having a total of three books published by the L.L. Ireland Magic Company—before the age of 20—gave him a surge of confidence. In later years, he applied his confidence and writing talent to the Youth for Christ (YFC) ministry.

Warren wrote many articles and guidebooks for YFC over a three-year period, but not all his manuscripts were seen by the public eye. One effort in particular, The Life I Now Live, based on Galatians 2:20, was never published. The reason, Warren explains with his characteristic humor, is simple: it was “a terrible book…Whenever I want to aggravate my wife, all I have to say is, ‘I think I’ll get out that Galatians 2:20 manuscript and work on it.’” Fortunately, Warren’s good manuscripts far outnumbered the “terrible” ones, and he was eventually hired by Moody Press to write three books.

The much-sought-after author then moved on to writing books for Calvary Baptist Church. It was during his ten years at Calvary that Expository Outlines on the New Testament and Expository Outlines on the Old Testament took shape. These two works later became the foundation of Warren’s widely popular Bible studies known as the Be series, featuring such titles as Be Loyal (a study on Matthew) and Be Delivered (a study on Exodus). Several of these books have been translated into Spanish.

His next avenue of ministry was Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church, where he served for seven years. He wrote nearly 20 books at Moody before moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he and his wife, Betty, now live. Prior to relocating, he had been the senior pastor of Moody Church, a teacher at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a producer of the Back to the Bible radio program.

During all these years of ministry, Warren held many more posts and took part in other projects too numerous to mention. His accomplishments are extensive, and his catalog of biblical works is indeed impressive and far-reaching (many of his books have been translated into other languages). But Warren has no intention of slowing down any time soon, as he readily explains: “I don’t like it when people ask me how I’m enjoying my ‘retirement,’ because I’m still a very busy person who is not yet living on Social Security or a pension. Since my leaving Back to the Bible, at least a dozen books have been published, and the Lord willing, more are on the way.”

Some of Wiersbe’s recent books include Your Next MiracleThe 20 Essential Qualities of a Child of GodThe Bumps are What You Climb OnClassic Sermons on the Fruit of the SpiritClassic Sermons on Jesus the ShepherdKey Words of the Christian LifeLonely PeopleA Gallery of GraceReal Peace: Freedom and Conscience in the Christian Life, and On Being a Leader for GodThe article above is adapted from Chapter One in his book God Isn’t In A Hurry: Learning to Slow Down and Live. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994.

10 God-Given Strategies For Difficult Times from Robert J. Morgan

*The 10 “Red Sea Rules” by Robert J. Morgan

 (1) Realize that God means for you to be where you are.

(2) Be more concerned for God’s glory than for your relief.

(3) Acknowledge your enemy, but keep your eyes on the Lord.

(4) Pray!

(5) Stay calm and confidant, and give God time to work.

(6) When unsure, just take the next logical step by faith.

(7) Envision God’s enveloping presence.

(8) Trust God to deliver in His own unique way.

(9) View your current crisis as a faith builder for the future.

(10) Don’t forget to praise Him.

* Robert J. Morgan is the pastor of Donelson Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee and the author of the best selling Then Sings My Soul, From This Verse, On This Day, and Red Sea Rules. He conducts Bible conferences, parenting and marriage retreats, and leadership seminars across the country.

Andrew Murray’s Formula for Going Through Trials

Anchors to Throw in a Time of Testing

 In Bible college at Multnomah School of the Bible in Portland, Oregon (now Multnomah University) almost three decades ago I was going through a very difficult trial. Since that time I have encountered “trials of various kinds” as James calls them in his epistle. My godly father (now 89 years old) sent me a cut out containing the following advice from Andrew Murray. I have kept this cut out in my Bible ever since and have referred to it countless times:

*(1) He brought me here. It’s by His will I am in this straight place. In that fact I will rest.

(2) He will keep me here in His love and give me grace to behave as His child.

(3) Then He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me the lessons He intends for me to learn.

(4) In His good time, He will bring me out again—how and when He knows. So let me say: I am

(a) Here by God’s appointment.

(b) In His keeping.

(c) Under His training.

(d) For His time.

*From a Sermon by Andrew Murray on Acts 27:28-29 entitled “Anchors to Throw in a Time of Testing.” Andrew Murray was a Dutch Reformed Church missionary sent from Scotland to South Africa. Andrew pastored churches in Bloemfontein, Worcester, Cape Town and Wellington, all in South Africa. He was a champion of the South African Revival of 1860.

In 1889, he was one of the founders of the South African General Mission (SAGM), along with Martha Osborn and Spencer Walton. After Martha Osborn married George Howe, they formed the South East Africa General Mission (SEAGM) in 1891. SAGM and SEAGM merged in 1894. Because its ministry had spread into other African countries, the mission’s name was changed to Africa Evangelical Fellowship (AEF) in 1965. AEF joined with SIM in 1998 and continues to this day.

He died on January 18, 1917, four months before his eighty-ninth birthday. He was so influenced by Johann Christoph Blumhardt‘s Möttlingen revival that he included a portion of Friedrich Zündel’s biography at the end of With Christ in the School of Prayer. Over the years he has influenced many, including Jessie Penn-Lewis, a key figure in the 1904-1905 Welsh Revival. His writings have greatly influenced the writings of both Watchman Nee and Witness Lee.

Paul David Tripp on What We All Hate: Waiting!

5 Reasons Why God Calls Us to Wait – By Paul David Tripp

In ministry you will be both called to wait and also find waiting personally and corporately difficult. So it is important to recognize that there are lots of good reasons why waiting is not merely inescapable but necessary and helpful. Here are a few of those reasons.

(1) Because We Live in a Fallen World

We are called to wait because the broken condition of the world makes everything we do harder. Nothing in this life or in your ministry really functions as originally intended. Something changed when sin entered the world, and in rebuking Adam, God summarized that change: “cursed is the ground . . . through painful toil you will eat of it. . . . It will produce thorns and thistles for you. . . . By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food” (Genesis 3:17-19). Sin brought friction and trouble and pain and sweat and a thousand other “thorn and thistle” complications to absolutely every aspect of life. We find ourselves waiting because everything in a fallen world is more laborious and entangled than it really ought to be.

Sin also put greed and fear and arrogance and jealousy and self-worship into the souls of all who live this thorn-and-thistle life. We must wait because, by being selfish, impatient, competitive, driven, anxious, and angry, we make life and ministry harder for one another in an endless variety of ways. This is why the seemingly easy leadership conversation becomes the full-blown conflict, why the once-sweet ministry relationship gets stained with hurt and acrimony, and why the church at times sadly functions as a tool of personal power rather than an instrument of worship and redemption.

Processes and people are all affected—everything and everyone has been damaged by the Fall. We must wait, because in a world that is broken, everything we do is harder and more complicated than it was ever meant to be.

(2) Because God Is Sovereign

We must wait because we are not writing our own personal and ministry stories. Life does not work the way we want it to, in the time we want it to. You and I do not live in the center of the universe. That place is forever occupied by God and God alone. Our individual stories and the stories of our churches are part of the great origin-to-destiny story that he alone authors. Waiting becomes immediately easier when you realize God is sovereign (and you are not) and when you further reflect on the reality that he is the ultimate source of everything that is wise, loving, and good.

Waiting, therefore, is not a sign that your world is out of control. Rather, it is a sign that your world is under the wise and infinitely attentive control of a God of fathomless wisdom and boundless love. This means you can rest as you wait, not because you like to wait, but because you trust the One who is calling you to wait.

(3) Because God Is a God of Grace

Waiting is one of God’s most powerful tools of grace. It’s important to realize in your ministry that God doesn’t just give us grace for the wait. The wait itself is a gift of grace. You see, waiting is not only about what you will receive at the end of the wait. Waiting is about what you will become as you wait.

In calling us to wait, God is even rescuing those of us in ministry from our bondage to our own plan, our own wisdom, our own power, our own control. In calling us to wait, God is freeing us from the claustrophobic confines of our own little kingdoms of one and drawing us into a greater allegiance to his kingdom of glory and grace. Waiting is more than being patient as situations and other people change. Waiting is about understanding that you and I desperately need to change, and that waiting is a powerful tool of personal change. God is using the grace of waiting to change us at the causal core of our personhood: the heart. Now, in ministry, that’s a good thing!

(4) So We Can Minister to Others

Waiting is central to any ministry activity. If you are truly committed to being part of what God is doing in the lives of others, you will be willing to wait. Personal heart and life change is seldom a sudden event. Usually it is a process. You and I do not determine when and how the winds of the Spirit will blow, and people do not often become what they need to become overnight.

This means that in ministry we are called to have the same conversation again and again. We are called to pick that person up after each failure, to be willing to forgive and forbear, to remind him or her once more of God’s presence and grace, and to be willing to have our lives slowed down and complicated in the process. People of grace and love are always people who are willing to wait.

(5) For the Increase of God’s Glory

Finally, we are called to wait because everything in life and ministry exists not for our comfort and ease but for God’s glory. The whole redemptive story is written for one purpose and one purpose alone: the glory of the king.

Waiting is hard for us because we tie our hearts to other glories. We so often are tempted to live and minister for the glory of human acceptance, of personal achievement, of power and position, of possessions and places, and of comfort and pleasure. So when God’s glory requires that these things be withheld from us—things we look to for identity, meaning, and purpose—we find waiting a grueling, burdensome experience.

Waiting means surrendering your glory. Waiting means submitting to his glory. Waiting means understanding that you were given life and breath for the glory of another. Waiting gives you opportunity to forsake the delusion of your own glory and rest in the God of awesome glory. Only when you do that will you find what you seek, and what you were meant to have: lasting identity, meaning, purpose, and peace in Christ. In this way waiting is is much more than a burden for you to bear; it is a precious gift for you to receive with joy.

Dr. Paul David Tripp is the president of Paul Tripp Ministries, a nonprofit organization whose mission statement is “Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life.” Tripp is also professor of pastoral life and care at Redeemer Seminary in Dallas, Texas, and executive director of the Center for Pastoral Life and Care in Fort Worth, Texas. Tripp has written many books on Christian living that are read and distributed internationally. He has been married for many years to Luella, and they have four grown children. *This Article originally appeared on the Gospel Coalition Web Site on October 24, 2011.

Book Review: God Isn’t In A Hurry by Warren W. Wiersbe

Help For Impatient People

I am someone who struggles with waiting. As such, I am grateful for this book. There are various topics covered in these 30 devotionals penned by this godly and wise pastor to pastors – Dr. Warren Wiersbe (once the pastor of the Historic Moody Memorial Church in Chicago). This book is the third of it’s type – the other two being Turning Mountains into Molehills, and The Bumps Are What You Climb On.

The subtitle of the book is really what all the devotionals center around: “Learning to slow down and live.” I have read this book daily for a month several times, and have flipped through it trying to find the right title to suit whatever I’ve been going through during a difficult time.

This book is full of Biblical insights and principles, encouragement, and will definitely help you to be reminded of God’s sovereignty and goodness in your life. He also encourages you by showing how important your life is in the overall plans of God. I come to this book again and again to slow down and rest in the Lord.

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