Thursday, July 29, 2010

ONE MINUTE BEFORE MIDNIGHT

We see in 1 Samuel 13 that Saul faced a crucial moment that every believer must eventually confront. It is a time of crisis when we're forced to decide whether we'll wait on God by faith, or get impatient and take matters into our own hands.

Saul's pivotal moment came when ominous clouds of war were gathering over Israel. The Philistines had amassed a huge army of horsemen, iron chariots and legions of soldiers brandishing the latest weapons. By contrast, the Israelites had only two swords in their entire army—one for Saul and one for his son, Jonathan. Everyone else had to use makeshift weapons, such as wooden spears or crude farm tools.

A week earlier Samuel had warned Saul to wait for him at Gilgal before going into battle. The prophet had said he would arrive after seven days to make the proper sacrifices to the Lord.

When the seventh day came and Samuel hadn't arrived, Saul's soldiers began to scatter. Worse, the king didn't have God's direction for battle.

What approach did Saul take? Did he stand firm, declaring, "I don't care if it takes Samuel eight days to arrive, I'm going to stand on God's Word to me. Live or die, I will obey his command"? No—Saul panicked. He allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his circumstances. And he ended up manipulating his way around God's Word. He ordered the priest who was present to make the sacrifices without Samuel and in so doing committed a grievous sin against the Lord (see 1 Samuel 13:11–12).

No—God is never too late. All along, the Lord knew each step Samuel was taking toward Gilgal. He had set the prophet on a heavenly navigation system, pinpointing his arrival to the very second. Samuel would be there by day seven, even if it was one minute before midnight.

God has not changed throughout the ages. And he is still concerned with whether his people obey this command: "Obey the voice of the Lord, and [do not] rebel against the commandment of the Lord" (1 Samuel 12:15, paraphrased). It doesn't matter if our lives are spinning out of control—we are to walk in total confidence in the Lord. Even if things look hopeless, we are not to act in fear. Rather, we are to wait patiently on him to deliver us, as his Word promises.

The fact is, God stood right beside Saul as the massive Philistine army pressed in. He knew the crisis Saul was in and his eye was on every detail.

Our God sees every detail of your crisis. He sees all the life-problems pressing in on you. And he's fully aware your situation is getting worse daily. Those who pray and wait on him with calm faith are never in any real danger. Moreover, he knows all your panicky thoughts: "I don't see how I can ever repay this debt…I don't have any hope for my marriage…I don't know how I can keep my job…." Yet his command to you still holds true: "Don't panic or get ahead of me. You are to do nothing but pray—and rely on me. I honor everyone who puts his trust in me."

Consider these words God has given to his church: "Without faith it is impossible to please him" (Hebrews 11:6). "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us" (Psalm 62:8). "Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: he is their help and their shield" (Psalm 115:11). "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths" (Proverbs 3:5–6).

Unbelief is deadly, its consequences tragic. And we face dire consequences if we try to extricate ourselves from our trials instead of trusting God to see us through them.