Looking back on my life, I have experienced plenty of ‘not now’ moments with God; quite honestly those moments have angered me, and still do. Who in the heck is God to decide what is best for my life? He can’t relate to the heartache, suffering, illness and stress in my life. And God certainly isn’t the one suffering, losing a job, feeling disappointed and hopes dashed for the umpteenth time.
Sometimes our prayers seem like dust in the wind. Nothing happens and we wonder where God is when we really need Him. Is He listening; does He care when the job is given to someone else or prayers for physical healing, salvation, failed marriages go unanswered? Our earthly nature can’t help but question God.
A number of years ago I was going through a divorce. It was not something I wanted, but life happens. I soon discovered that my husband, at the time, had not only been unfaithful, but also had failed to pay business taxes. Unbeknownst to me, my home was in the process of being seized by the Treasury Department for delinquent back-taxes. It was a shocking truth and I sought God’s help. Weeks passed and I was unable to locate my husband’s whereabouts. He had simply vanished, leaving me with all the bills and back-taxes.
Where was God? The situation continued to drag out regardless of the heaven bound prayers. God’s answer seemed to be ‘Not Now’. I took His answer as, “I’m too busy right now; I’ll check my calendar and get back to you when I have free time.”
Panic mode kicked into gear; I wanted something to happen NOW. Hello God! I’m about to lose my home; for whatever reason, you don’t seem concerned in the least. Yet, when the dust finally settled, God’s ‘Not Now’ worked to my good. Interest rates dropped to an all-time low and I was able to refinance and settle with a lower mortgage payment.
I am the first to admit, it’s not easy embrace ‘Not Now’ moments when diligently seeking God’s guidance. When things don’t happen as planned, or hoped, we tend to run ahead of God. We try to fix and manipulate the outcome of our personal desires, schedule, or goals to fit our agenda. Let’s face it, when the tenth job interview ends with, “Sorry, we’ve hired someone else”, it’s easy to doubt God’s promises.
It’s hard to accept God’s NO, especially when reading the following scriptures:
“…If God is for us, who can be against us?”
“How great is the goodness you have reserved for those who fear you; that you have set in place for those who take refuge in you, in the presence of the children of men.”
However, God’s ‘NO’ sometimes stretches our faith; it teaches us how to accept His will even when we don’t have all the facts and information. The testing of our faith leads to perseverance. I regret to say, our personal contentment is not God’s first priority in our life. He is most concerned that we gain a deep intimacy, a strong faith, and godly character. God desires an obedient follower who loves Him no matter our situation. That’s tough, at least for me. When I make the right choices, I expect to gain God’s attention. But even right choices don’t always give insight into God’s plan and purpose for our life.
I don’t have the answers for hearing God’s voice. I don’t know how God determines His specific plans for our life, and I struggle with surrendering myself to His guidance and accepting his timing. But I am certain of these things:
1) God loves me
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3: 16
2) God leads me
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” Psalms 25:12
God acts on our behalf, but His answers may come over a long period of time.
3) God hears me
“This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.” I John 5: 14-15
4) God will not be manipulated
Prayers can be passionate and full of faith, but if God is saying ‘Not Now’, rest assured, it won’t happen. God will not be held captive to our desires.
5) God shuts doors
Sometimes things that look good are not always God’s will. Our prayers can be linked to the proper timing of the event or situation. God’s response is delayed, but not necessarily denied.
Jesus taught us that God “sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). Good and bad happens to all of us. When our prayers are answered with an unexplainable ‘no, not now’, we need to understand God is fully in charge of our life. He has not abandoned us and he will never forsake us.
“The Lord goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8