It was a quiet weekday afternoon and I must have been about seven years old. If you had been a fly on my wall, you would have observed me holding a cookbook in one hand and giving orders while pointing with the other hand. My younger sister, Sarah (who faithfully followed me everywhere) was laying out the ingredients for our special treat. I was going to make granola bars.
You have to understand that Sarah was the predicable “good” child. She rarely got in trouble because almost everything she did wrong was my fault. What I mean is, I convinced her to do what was “in question” and reaped the appropriate consequences. This afternoon was no exception. I knew I was not supposed to be baking alone. Furthermore, I had waited until our babysitter had gone to take a nap to carry out my plan.
What could possibly go wrong?
I hastily mixed up my ingredients, substituting here and there where we were missing an ingredient. I quickly spooned the lumpy batter into the muffin tins, stuck them in the oven for the required amount of time, and waited. Sarah was a little anxious. She had already advised me to wait and now she was practically biting her five-year old nails off in worry. I just know she was waiting for me to blow something up (and just for the record, it’s a miracle that she and I are both still alive!).
The minutes passed like hours and I worried that the babysitter would wake up! My plan was to make the bars, turn them out on the counter to cool, clean up my mess, and disappear. When the babysitter woke up, she would be pleasantly surprised and too pleased with my seven-year old abilities to get mad. But…that’s not exactly what happened.
After what seemed like eternity, the timer went off and I proudly pulled my prized treat out of the oven. However, when I went to turn them onto the counter, I discovered that I had forgotten a most vital ingredient (especially for sticky, dried fruit bars). Cooking spray. They were stuck fast, and they would not come out of the pan, no matter what! I tried sticking my fingers down the side…and yanked them out just as quickly as they’d gone in. It was hot! 400 degrees hot! Next, I tried a butter knife, but to no avail. It was getting late and the stubborn things wouldn’t budge. The tops tasted just fine, but I finally gave up. It was no use. The babysitter was going to find out. I heard the door at the end of the hall open. I grabbed Sarah’s hand and headed for the backdoor. The screen door slammed behind me and we dashed down our deck steps and crouched underneath…waiting.
The granola bars were not the problem. The timing was.
Sometimes the Christian life is like this. Had I waited until I had the proper permission and supervision, my project would have turned out better! Even if I hadn’t been given permission, the time for me to bake on my own would have come! I cook more meals now than I ever thought I’d cook – more than I’d like to!
We hear God’s call on our lives: missions, charity work, counseling, marriage, starting a Bible study…the list could go on. They’re wonderful things. We get excited about the opportunities before us and we launch out into the deep. We view these opportunities as the foundation we’re building, when in reality, they’re simply tools we can utilize in God’s timing. Then there is that quiet voice that halts our steps – even if just for a moment:
“My child, wait.”
“Wait.” How I’ve hated that word so many times in my life…but it’s a word God uses to test. I’ve stopped at times, and heard this: “You’re not ready yet. I want to give it to you, but you’re not ready yet.” Oh…but the process of getting ready is NOT fun! – I want to yell it out. “Look Lord – the thing you’ve called me to is so much greater! So much more could be accomplished!” And God says, “Wait.”
It’s easy to believe we’re “not doing anything worthwhile” if we’re not involved in the work we want. The true test lies in if you can lay a godly foundation – set a godly example – when things aren’t going exactly as you want them to!
I baked my granola bars. They were still granola bars, but they weren’t as good as they could have been. If God calls me to the mission field and I go right now when I hear Him say “Wait!” I’ll still be a missionary! I might even have the privilege of winning souls to the Lord, or making a difference in lives…but oh, how much better if I had waited? How much stronger a foundation might I have laid? I may never know.
“Wait” does not mean “No”. God will never withhold from us a desire He’s given when it is the right time.
God gives us desires: HIS desires. A passion to do His work, His way…and we miss the last part: His time. His work and His way are so glorious, but sometimes His time, to our fleshly hearts and mortal minds, is not. How I am learning the truth of Jim Elliot’s words, “Wherever you are, be all there.” Dear believer, if you cannot serve God on the mission field of waiting – if you cannot lay a foundation where it’s difficult – you will never serve Him on the mission field of running. Waiting seems so very hard to the heart and soul, but running requires an endurance that is built by waiting – waiting on the Lord.
They that wait upon the Lord…shall run and not grow weary.
As I crouched under that deck, I felt the misery of not waiting. I heard my name being called and I crept out, guilty face, hands thrust deep in the pockets of my blue jeans, my sneakers scuffing the ground as I walked up the stairs again. Sarah tagged along behind me, half-hiding. My parents were out of town. They’d be gone for a week. I met the disapproving eyes that seemed to bore holes in me. “Why didn’t you wait?” She asked me.
For the next five days, I scrubbed the bottom of that muffin tin. Not only had I failed to grease the pan, but I had baked the small bars for the longest allotted time instead of the shortest. I hadn’t filled the cups all the way, and the bottoms were black and charred – stuck for life, it seemed, on that pan! I still have the recipe and the muffin tin and whenever I open our family’s cook-book cabinet, my eye falls on the spine of that dreadful cookie-book, and I remember, “Wait.”
Be anxious for nothing, dear believer. When God gives you His desires, His plans to be carried out, yield them right back to Him. He can care for them better than you, for they are, after all, HIS plans. Will the generation that follows you see the burnt, stuck-on remains of impatience and regret – a foundation you built where you wanted to build it…running ahead? Or will they reap the beautiful rewards of one who waited for God’s best and began to build where it was hard – in the waiting – in His designated plan?
Start building NOW, in the waiting.