He desires to work in us...
I am learning that it does not matter if you are an excited new believer on fire for Jesus, a repentant child who has returned to the Father with a newfound love for the things of God after years of wandering, or a strong Christian who’s still in spiritual training. We often desire to jump into service to our Master, forgetting that He desires to work in us more than He needs to work through us. There is a kind of quiet surrender, fueled by long periods of time spent alone waiting on God, that is far more valuable and precious to Jesus than grand ministry accomplishments, theological training, or rapid evangelism results.
Neither earthly knowledge nor talent are key players in the kingdom of God. But humble, holy hearts are priceless to Him because they are cultivated by dwelling in His presence and drawing strength from Him.
We may feel ready, think we are equipped, and even deeply desire to serve the Lord, to do something big after all He’s done for us, but it is of paramount importance to do God’s work, God’s way. Which means we must wait for His timing and the revelation of His will.
Think of all the great men and women of faith in Scripture, who seemingly passed their prime, and waited for years before the Lord said “now!” Moses, Joshua, David...the list goes on and on. Moses spent forty years in the palace and forty years in the desert before God sent him to free His people. Joshua could have entered the Promised Land as a young man, but the Lord used the unbelief of the Israelites and the many years of wandering to strengthen Joshua’s faith and make him the mighty commander that would lead God’s people to victory. David waited for years after he was anointed by Samuel to become king. During those years of waiting, he was hunted mercilessly by Saul, and even after being crowned king of Judah he waited another seven and a half years to rule all of Israel. Each of these men (and many others) were given an assignment that did not begin until they had learned many lessons and sought the Lord with their whole hearts while they waited for His timing.
humility and submission...
After the disciples were given the Great Commission, arguably one of the most important assignments ever given, the disciples were commanded to wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them. But our biggest example is Jesus Christ Himself. For 30 years, He humbly, patiently waited for His Father’s perfect time. Imagine all the miracles He could have performed, the sermons He could have preached, the followers He could have gained, if He had started His ministry as soon as He left His glory above. Did He need practice or training? Absolutely not. He was already perfect. He simply had to fulfill His Father’s plan and purpose.
Although He is the very power and wisdom of God, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:3), when Jesus took on human form He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52) Christ waited, in complete submission to His Father, until it was revealed that the nobody from Nazareth was the Savior of the world.
What humility and submission our Savior, the Son of God, modeled! Yet how often do we choose to take matters into our own hands, straining at the leash to accomplish great things. We need to be reminded that God works on His terms and His timeline, not ours. He looks for simple obedience, faithfulness in the little, and a humble heart, seeking to work in us before working through us.
learning, growing, and bearing fruit...
It might be incredibly easy to jump on social media and share what the Lord has been teaching us, and to amass a huge following that is hungry for the truth. It might be tempting to seek a prominent position at our local church to serve others more effectively. But remember, the Lord measures success differently than we do. Rushing into ministry for the wrong reasons or without the right training can be disastrous, both for us and for the souls that could potentially be misled. None of us have the full picture, do we? We are merely instruments of grace in the hands of a mighty God who is not only preparing and changing us, but readying hearts, and adjusting circumstances. We are merely tiny pieces of His master plan, meaning we must make sure our will is aligned with His.
Does that mean we sit around and do nothing while we wait for Him to use us? Of course not. There are things the Lord commands every one of His children to do in their families, churches, and communities, clearly stated in His Word. Most importantly: learning, growing, and bearing fruit. Without spiritual growth and change, we cannot expect an assignment, or worse, start one on our own. Wisdom is gained in the waiting. God takes our surrendered, quiet hearts and molds us into His image, creating powerful instruments that will bring Him glory, not ourselves. As we abide in Him and in His Word, He prepares us, using each and every circumstance in our lives as a means of necessary “work experience”.
What is the key, then, to proper preparation? The Holy Spirit of God. He teaches us, draws us closer to Christ, convicts us of sin, controls our hearts, and brings the power and effectiveness that can only come with our yielding to Him. This means most of the training, most of the waiting, happens behind the scenes and in our hearts. And it will not always be easy. But we can rejoice knowing that every minute of our waiting—ordinary, insignificant moments that fill up our days or huge battles and breakthroughs—is part of our preparation and will never be in vain. Those long nights drowning in sorrow, those desperate prayers for joy and purpose, that smoldering flame of wanting to be used even when doubts and fears threaten to quench it—the Lord sees it all and uses it all to grow our faith, increase our wisdom, and fill us with His love.
trained and equipped...
Being ready for ministry is not a matter of qualification or status, for there is nothing we have done or anything we can do to prove ourselves to the Lord. By His grace, we are all joined with Him in the ministry of reconciliation. He uses the young, the simple, and the poor alike. He delights in using the “foolish in the world to shame the wise; (and the) weak in the world to shame the strong” 1 Cor. 1:27.
So, why do so many of our plans and efforts to build God’s kingdom fail? I believe sometimes it is because we were not ready, and the Lord simply did not send us anywhere. Unless the Lord says ready, set, go, we must wait.
The following Scripture passages illustrate the importance of maturity in our faith. In Ephesians 4:12-16, Paul emphasizes the need for believers to be trained and equipped with the knowledge of Christ so we may not be led astray from the truth. If we grow and mature together, we will be more effective members of the body of Christ.
“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.”
It is power to do nothing...
Similarly, the writer of Hebrews exhorts the people to move on from foundational Scriptural truths (which they still hadn’t fully grasped) to deeper truths, which required spiritual maturity gained by regular training in righteousness. “...solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
May we desire to wait patiently, asking God for wisdom (Jam. 1:5), and trusting Him to use us in the way He sees best.
“Prayerful waiting on God is indispensable to effective service. Like the time-out in a football game, it enables us to catch our breath and fix new strategy. As we wait for directions, the Lord frees us from the tyranny of the urgent. He shows us the truth about Himself, ourselves, and our tasks. He impresses on our minds the assignments He wants us to undertake. The need itself is not the call; the call must come from the God who knows our limitations. We do know that Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent. It gave Him a sense of direction, a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned. And on the last night He could say, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” Charles Hummel
“Waiting for God means power to do nothing save under command. This is not lack of power to do anything. Waiting for God needs strength rather than weakness. It is power to do nothing. It is the strength that holds strength in check. It is the strength that prevents the blundering activity which is entirely false and will make true activity impossible when the definite command comes.” G Campbell Morgan
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:4-5
Elisabeth is the newest member to the By Design team. In 2020 she founded Radiant Woman Magazine where she sought to provide a platform for Christian women from all over the world to share their stories. Today, Elisabeth and RWM, have joined the BDJ family. Elisabeth serves as our Managing Editor, a beautiful addition to our team. She brings with her a godly confidence and sincere heart to declare the truths of scripture to all that would hear. This is the first article of many that will follow.