Thursday, April 17, 2008

Delays

I am always eager when I see the first signs of spring to get out and buy bedding plants. Neither of my two thumbs is green but I love to plant flowers anyway!
Saturday was a gorgeous day! Clear blue sky and the kind of warmth in the air that speaks of planting gardens.
I have learned over the years which flowers bloom in spite of me and one particular plant I love is one variety of the African Daisy called Arctosis. It is hard to get and when I called my local garden shop the clerk referred me to the owner who knew immediately what I was looking for but he did not have them in yet because in his words “We are three weeks behind this year in spring. It is still too cold to plant them so I won’t be bringing them in for a week or two yet ! “

A three week delay in spring? My heart sank with disappointment!
We are expecting out of town guests and of course I wanted all my flower beds in full bloom – well, at LEAST planted!

It is a bit of an oxymoron, is it not? We complain so readily that time is just slipping by too quickly but put a ‘delay’ in our day and we immediately rise up in disappointment or alarm!

When the expert gardener told me it was too cold to plant my Arctosis my first thought reaction was to plant something else.

Have you ever thought about how a ‘delay’ roadblock brings with it a temptation? I had never thought about that aspect before and then I moved to wondering if God sometimes brings delays into our day or life as a test to see what is in our heart.

Think about the last time you met with a delay. Maybe it was as minor as a time delay in a cashier line up or stalled traffic. Maybe it was a delay in your plans … maybe it was a delay caused by an unexpected accident or health situation or an unwanted change in a job or financial situation. Delays in our life are rather a given, aren’t they?
But what do we do with them? That is the question.

My mind drifted to scriptural examples. Immediately, I thought of Saul.
He had everything going for him as we read in I Sam. 9:2 “a choice and handsome young man. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.”

God chose him to be Israel’s first King … and God’s choice met with the unanimous approval of the people.
But Saul was undone by his reaction to a delay. A simple delay... waiting for someone who was a little late.
How often do we wait for someone? Did you ever think your reaction could change your life? Probably not and usually it is not that serious… but for Saul it was.

Saul had reigned as king for two years when the Israelites found themselves threatened by the Philistine armies. Saul gathered around him a few thousand men and readied himself for battle confident of his victory.
Before the Israelites went to battle it was customary to make a sacrifice to the Lord for His blessing to be given for their victory. The offering had to be made by a priest and Samuel assured Saul that he would be there on such and such a day to officiate the required sacrifice.

Saul waited but Samuel’s coming was delayed.

Jonathon had attacked a garrison of Philistines at Geba and upon hearing about it the Philistines were enraged and came with thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and soldiers numbering as the sand of the sea to fight against Israel’s three thousand man army.
Understandably, Saul’s little army began to fear and Saul watched the men with him dwindle away as they ran to hide in caves, in rocks, in pits and even in thickets.

He waited seven days but still Samuel did not show up. The delay tested Saul beyond his patience and he finally took matters into his own hands and offered the burnt offering himself. Hardly had he finished than Samuel appears and asks him what he has done.
Saul tried to excuse himself by saying that he felt he had no choice as the Philistines were almost upon them and they dared not fight without supplication made to the Lord.
But Samuel does not accept his reasoning and says, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord you God which He commanded you. “

Saul’s reaction to his ‘delay’ cost him dearly. It cost him his kingdom. God took it away from him and gave it to another … a shepherd boy. (I Sam. 13)

I think we are inwardly shocked at the severity of consequences imposed by God on Saul for his reaction. If we are honest, I think most every one of us would have done the same thing as Saul. The situation was dire; Samuel was seven days late, there was no way to contact him and the victory of the impending battle depended on the sacrifice. Someone had to do it… and do it quickly... time was running out.

There is an interesting point here…. WAS time running out? Of course not… had Saul waited for Samuel as he had been commanded to do Samuel would have arrived just in time… there was plenty of time to offer the sacrifice before the battle ensued.

Is that not the first temptation of a delay? To believe that time is running out? That something that HAS to be done will not be done in time? God is never flustered … God is never too late… God never forgets and is never out of control. He has already worked delays into His perfect plan.
Let not delays cause you to panic.

A delay also tempts us to think that we can come up with an alternate plan. Saul knew that he was not qualified to make the sacrifice to the Lord... it HAD to be a priest. But Saul thought he could be an exception. God’s commandments are not open to our amendments... not matter how much we think we need to take things into our own hands.
Let not delays cause you to lean onto your own understanding.

A delay also tempts us to react in the flesh, does it not? How quickly can the smallest delay cause you to become irritable, or annoyed or downright disgruntled or angry?
The fruit of the Spirit quickly withers on the vine. I’m sure Saul was angry with Samuel, irritable and impatient with the endless waiting, and feeling he was losing control of his men who were fleeing.
Let not delays cause you to react in the flesh.

The next time a ‘delay’ presents itself in your path… whether it is an insignificant delay or a major life-changing one … stop and consider. What will this delay reveal about you? How will you react? Will you let it strengthen you in your trust in God’s control and timing in your life? Will you let it teach you to walk unruffled in the fruit of the Spirit?

7 comments:

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Julie, once again you have posted words of wisdom that really make me stop and ponder. And think, about delays...waiting...the unexpected....

Thank you for your meaningful retelling of the story of Saul.

I like to read your posts slowly, and absorb what you are saying, and marvel at how good you are at saying it. You have a natural eloquence.

Your posts are always educational, and I like them very, very much.

Thank you!

Regards,
Lavinia

Lovella said...

Oh yes, this is for me. I am notoriously punctual. I have knots in my stomach if I realize that something is standing in my way to make me late for an appointment. I will remember this one next time I'm being inpatient or someone else is late .. .
Oh, and I looked at my photos from last year this week . .yup .. way behind.

Elsie said...

Another Biblical example I thought of is Abraham, who also took matters into his own hands when God was taking too long! God seems to use these delays to test us, and I've learned through experience that He often will come through just at the "last minute".....at least in our eyes it seems like the last minute.....but it is His perfect timing.

Demara said...

That is something to think about!

And 3 weeks behind?
Grr...
Does this mean that Summer will be 3 weeks shorter?

I'm really missing the sunshine!

Lavinia Ladyslipper said...

Hi Julie, I suppose you are very busy with your out of town guests, but I wanted to pop by and just say, I hope you have a wonderful visit with them, and that the plants you desire are there the next time you go to the garden shop.

And, of course, looking forward to your next post.

Regards,
Lavinia

Sara said...

Oh, to walk unruffled in the fruits of the Spirit! You have said it all so well, and wonderfully, as always. This post seems to speak particularly strongly to me....I know I needed to read it. Thank you!

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Hey, all that cold weather sunk down here to make a later spring than usual in answer to my prayers.

Please see the results of this on my blog...and thanks for being patient with the late spring for my sake!