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What to Do When You Don't Know What to Do

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(10/21) Wait and Meditate

Sooner or later everyone will come to a point in their lives when they don't know what to do. It could be that you go to work one day and are handed a pink slip, what do you do? Sadly, some have had or will have a spouse that will come home and say, "I don't want to be married to you anymore," what do you do? Some will go to a Dr. with a headache or joint pain and will hear the C word, what do you do?

For others it will be disappointment with God in unanswered prayer. You have prayed for the salvation of a child, a sibling, or a spouse for years and they show no sign of wanting to know Jesus. You have prayed for a prodigal to come home or to come back to God and they don't. You have prayed for the love of your spouse but his or her job or hobby or friends or possessions seem to be more important. You have prayed for your circumstances to change to make more money, get a promotion, hear good news about your health but it doesn't happen. You have prayed for the truth to be made known and for justice to be served for you and it doesn't happen. What are you supposed to do? That's what this series is for.

We have looked thus far at three things that are essential if we are to survive these times of uncertainty. First, we must remember that God has a plan, even when we don't understand. There are at least 12 things that He may be doing. Second, we need to pour our hearts out to God, casting all our care, all our emotions, all our questions, all our anxieties onto His lap. He wants us to, He tells us to, and He cares. And when you do, be sure to re-commit your trust in Him no matter what. Third, we must live by faith, that is, we must keep on obeying Him in every thing, because you trust Him. Keep on trusting God and doing the things that you know to do, regardless of the circumstances or the consequences.

This morning, I want to give you two more things that you need to do when you don't know what to do; they are, to Wait and to Meditate.

Turn to Psalm 27 and look at verse 14 and then to Jeremiah's Lamentation 3:25-26.

Waiting is not something we are good at and mostly we don't enjoy. Unless I am fishing or hunting or sitting on a beach and enjoying the peace and beauty of creation, I don't enjoy waiting. We have become an instant society. Instant TV, email, facebook, twitter, google, cell phones, microwaves, remotes, and more, all result in instant results, to know or see. Does anyone remember TV when the remote was you or your child? "Jr. get up and turn the TV on. Jr. Turn the channel to channel 2." Remember rotary phones and party lines? Remember football without instant replay? Remember ordering a hamburger and waiting while it was fried? Remember going to a library and checking out a book, or taking a book off the shelf to do research? Remember sending letters through the postal service? Now it's instant messaging, google, and email. But God isn't always into instant messaging or email. So, what do we do?

Let's review our options. We have 3 or 4 options.

We can try to make things happen ourselves. Let me give you two examples. First, in 1 Samuel 13, Saul is pacing the floor waiting for Samuel to come and offer a sacrifice and give him counsel about dealing with his enemies. When it appeared that Samuel wasn't coming, Saul decided to offer the sacrifice himself, a position he had no right to do. Before the fire went out, guess who arrived. Samuel, and he informed Saul that because he had knowingly done what he wasn't supposed to do, God had rejected him and sought another man after God's own heart to be king. Second, consider Genesis 16. It had been about a dozen years since God told Abraham that he would have children. But as they were not getting younger, his wife Sara thought that perhaps they could help God out with His plan, after all doesn't God help those who help themselves? They should probably have a surrogate to have a child with Abraham and hence the whole fiasco occurred with Haggar and the birth of Ishmael. Reminds me of a cartoon of two hungry buzzards on a dry tree in the desert, and one turns to the other and says, "I am tired of being patient, I am going to kill something." Some think that Judas was trying to force Jesus into a corner with his betrayal, so He would have to defend Himself and become the Messiah. Have you ever done that? Have you ever felt compelled to take matters into your own hands and do something even if it was wrong.

You can quit because of disillusionment. Quit your job, quit your marriage, quit serving God and try to walk away. Trust me, I've been there. That's what Elijah wanted to do in 1 Kings 19 and Jeremiah wanted to do in Jeremiah 20. I am not preaching His word any more.

You can Blame God. You can become angry and bitter towards God, as we will see in Isaiah 40 in a few moments.

You can do what you know to do and that involves waiting. It involves pouring your heart out to Him and living by faith no matter what. But it includes waiting.

Now there are at least 6 Old Testament words that are translated as; to wait. Of the six, one means, to lie in wait, that is, with malicious intent. Another means, to be still and silent like in Psalm 37:7, "Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him." Sometimes we need to do nothing but rest and wait. Notice, the rest is in the Lord.

But the other four words all combine the idea of waiting with hope and expectation, which is what we have been trying to teach you. Let's do a walk through some scriptures and while we won't come close to all the references on waiting we will get a picture of what it means to wait.

It is also interesting that the word for wait used in most of these also involves the idea of intertwining. Take this bailer twine. It is not a single thread but a whole lot of small threads that when wrapped together become strong. To wait on God is not about sitting around and doing nothing, instead, it is to actively interwine yourself with God. And that brings us back to what we have been talking about and will talk about for the next several weeks.

You remember that God has a plan even if you don't understand. Sometimes His plan is bigger than ours (Isa 55), and He is working our details in with the details of the lives of others. Sometimes, His timing is different because He sees what we can't see and He knows when the right time is, like when He sent His Son (Gal. 4:4). Sometimes there are things that He is doing in our lives and we simply wouldn't believe it even if we could see it. He is perfecting us somehow. Many of us want to say, "stop," because we are content where we are and we don't want to experience any more pain in the perfecting process, but He sees our potential and He cares too much to stop.

You pour your heart out to Him, daily, persistently, cry out to your Father with all your care, all you emotion, all your questions, all your pain.

You daily keep doing what you know to do regardless of the circumstances or consequences, because you trust Him. Never, ever base your obedience on what makes sense or is convenient to you.

And # 5, while you are waiting, in this land between where you were and where you want to be, you need to be meditating on at least 3 things. The word meditate means to chew on to think through and mull over.

The Character of God. With a good study Bible wrap yourself around what God is really like. Not some fluff and stuff theology of your own choosing, "Well my god is...." But, What does the Bible really say about God? And what does that mean to say that God is Good, Holy, Long-Suffering, Merciful, Gracious, Righteous, Just, Faithful, Omni-Present, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Never Changing, Truth, and Love; etc.?

What Has God Done in the Past. That is, what has He done in the Bible past with Israel, or any of the heroes of the Bible? What has He done in the past lives of Christians through the centuries? What has He done in your life in your past or in your family's lives, or in your church? His faithfulness in the past is an encouragement for the future.

What Has God Promised for the Future? This is the Hope that these scriptures talk about. Did He not tell you that you are a partaker of His New Covenant? He has pledged Himself to you. Hasn't He promised to meet your needs? Did He not Promise to never leave you, to always help you with His Holy Spirit? Did He not promise that He had a good purpose for allowing or doing what He is doing in your life? Did He not promise to love you no matter what calamity might come your way (Rom. 8:35-39). Did He not promise that He is going to come back? Didn't He promise that it will be worth it all when we see Jesus either by death or His return? There will be a crown, a city, a country, and a commendation from the King of Glory. Did He not promise to answer your prayers in His way and His time and that is why you should never stop asking, seeking, or knocking.

Dear family and friends, waiting in the land between is not fun and I don't exactly what God is doing in our lives individually or collectively but I know what we are to do when we don't know what to do and that is to wait and Hope in His Character, Be comforted By His faithfulness, and Trust in His Promises.

Let's close by looking at one of the great passages on waiting. Isaiah 40:

Intended as a prophetic look into the Captivity of Israel, God intends His words to bring them comfort (40:1-2). Look at verse 27. Don't ever think that God has forgotten or passed over you. Don't think that He doesn't care. He does care. This time of waiting is so that as you meditate on His character, and His faithfulness in the past and His promises for the future, your faith and your character will be strengthened. When the faithless quit and drop out, turn to drugs, alcohol, suicide, you will be strong and stable. Look at verse 28-31. Ever see an Eagle or hawk soar effortlessly across the sky? Not trapped by boundaries but soaring above their circumstances, seeing the bigger picture more clearly. God waiters will finish the race when others drop out from fatigue because their strength has been renewed because they wrapped themselves around God, in the land between, the place of waiting and meditating.

Are you in the land between? Not where you were but not where you want to be? You can try to make things happen apart from God; you can quit on God; you can Blame God, or you can wait on God. By the way, Isaiah says that this land between, the land of waiting is actually a blessed place to be. See Isaiah 30:18.

Perhaps This is a great time to get to know your God better by meditating on His Character, reminding yourself of what He has done in the past, or becoming better acquainted with His promises. If you will do that, you will find yourself like an athlete in training, getting stronger by the day as you wrap your mind and soul around God. While you wait, keep pouring your heart out to Him and living in daily obedience trusting Him no matter what.

Do you have a personal relationship with God? Have you received His Son Jesus as your Savior and Lord, receiving His forgiveness and hope of eternal life? If not, would you consider doing that today. I close with Philip Yancy's word's, "The only alternative to disappointment with God, is disappointment without God, without hope." May God bless you as you wait, rest in Him, and meditate on Him.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman