December 18, 2008
TRUSTING GOD IN THE SHADOWS
by Charles R. Swindoll
I want to dispense a fresh supply of hope. To help accomplish that, let me suggest four principles. They may mean more to you later than now---in a time when God leads you to wait in the shadows.
First, when God prepares us for effective ministry, He includes what we would rather omit---a period of waiting. That cultivates patience. As I write these words, it occurs to me that I've never met anyone young and patient. (To be honest, I've not met many old and patient folks either.) We're all in a hurry. We don't like to miss one panel of a revolving door. Patience comes hard in a hurry-up society. Yet, it's an essential quality, cultivated only in extended periods of waiting.
Second, as God makes us wait, hiding us in His shadow, He shows us we're not indispensable. That makes us humble. One major reason the Lord removes us and has us wait in His shadow is to remind us we're not the star attraction. We're not indispensable. That realization cultivates genuine humility. I'm convinced Paul never once questioned God for having His hand on Peter and Barnabas, rather than on him. In a time when most gifted individuals would have been volunteering at the revival headquarters, Paul willingly remained behind the scenes. All the while waiting for his time---correction, God's time.
Third, while God hides us away, He reveals new dimensions of Himself and new insights regarding ministry. That makes us deep. What we need today is not smarter people or busier people. A far greater need is deeper people. Deep people will always have a ministry. Always. God deepens us through time spent waiting on Him.
Fourth, when God finally chooses to use us, it comes at a time least expected, when we feel the least qualified. That makes us effective. The perfect set-up for a long-lasting, effective ministry begins with surprise. "Me? You sure You don't want that other person? She's got great qualifications and obvious gifts. You may want to talk to her." That's the idea. It's refreshing, in this highly efficient age, to find a few who are still amazed at the way God is using them.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.