When The Wisest Thing To Do Is Nothing

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Sometimes doing nothing can be the wisest thing to do…

Unfortunately, it can also sometimes be the hardest thing to do.

When you have a goal in mind, an area where you long to see change, a dream you believe God has placed on your heart, it is natural to want to move towards that.  It feels like the right thing to do.  It feels like obedience to God.  It is hard to sit and wait and it can feel like a waste of time, but there are times when taking action is the worst thing we can do.

Abram was in this situation.  He had received a promise from God that he would have many descendants- a great nation.  The only problem was that he had no children and he was 75 years old, and even after several more years had passed, still no child was born.  It’s understandable that Abram began to wonder if the promise was ever going to come true.

He is honest with God about this:  “O Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son?”  (Genesis 15:2)  God reassures him again that he will have a son, that his descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky. And “Abram believed the Lord.”  (Genesis 15:6)

So far so good, but as he continues to wait, maybe he begins to wonder if he is missing something he is meant to be doing.  Otherwise, surely it would be happening…  So when Sarai suggests that he should sleep with her servant Hagar, he agrees.  Maybe he thinks this is how the promise is going to be fulfilled.  However the consequences of rushing ahead instead of waiting for God are not pleasant and lead to a lot of hurt and heartache for several people.

Then there’s Moses.  He has been brought up in the Egyptian palace but he knows he is really an Israelite, so when he sees a fellow Israelite being brutally beaten, his sense of justice causes him to step in and take action.  Surely that’s a good thing?

Unfortunately he ends up killing the Egyptian and having to flee his homeland.  Again, the consequences of rushing ahead are severe.  The passion that he had to see the Israelites set free came from God, and he would be the one to lead them to freedom, but this was not God’s time or God’s way.

Later the Israelites themselves fall into the same trap.  They have been dramatically rescued from Egypt, they have escaped through the Red Sea and they are on their way to the land God has promised when Moses goes up Mount Sinai to meet with God to receive the law for the people.  This takes a while and the Israelites left at the bottom of the mountain begin to doubt: maybe Moses isn’t coming back, maybe they’ve been abandoned here, maybe they should try to find their own way forward.  So they do, by creating a golden calf to be their “god.”

It sounds like a ridiculous thing to do after the many ways they have seen God’s faithfulness, but I know that when I am waiting and God seems silent, I can be tempted to find my own way forward in equally ridiculous ways, instead of waiting and trusting.

Sometimes doing nothing can be the wisest thing to do.

In contrast to these examples, there are those who get it right- the disciples, after Jesus has returned to heaven, waiting in Jerusalem for the Holy Spirit to come, knowing that they can’t step out and do anything without his empowering; or Moses, after the incident with the golden calf, refusing to move ahead into the Promised Land without God: “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place…Your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”  (Exodus 33:15-16)

So, as I consider my current time of waiting, I’m encouraged me to do just that- to wait.  Wait for God’s guidance and wait for God’s timing, rather than rushing ahead and trying to do it by myself- because without him, I have nothing and I am nothing.

In church on Sunday, we focussed on a familiar passage: “I am the vine; you are the branches.  Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.  For apart from me, you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)

As I thought about it in the context of waiting, it struck me in a new way, and reminded me of the futility of rushing ahead without God.  Though I long to see fruit in a particular area and I feel called to bear fruit in this area, I cannot make it happen.  Apart from him, I can do nothing, so it’s pointless to try.

What I am called to do is to remain in him, to stay connected, to let his life and his Spirit flow through me.

Only then can I bear fruit, but in his way and in his time- not in mine.

Join me throughout November and December as I focus on the topic of waiting.  Click here for an index of all the posts in the series.

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      Holly Barrett     purposefulfaith.com        Crystal Storms

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35 thoughts on “When The Wisest Thing To Do Is Nothing

  1. There a few verse that come to mind in regards to waiting on God. Psalm 27:14 and Isaiah 40:31. Waiting on God is an example of obedience. Thank you for this poignant reminder. Have a fantastic week and may God bless you and yours.

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    1. Thanks, Horace. Great verses- I have always loved the one from Isaiah. I think often we can think of obedience as doing something, but there are times when it is obedience to do nothing but wait. Hope you have a great week too!

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  2. Dear Lesley … I’m at the tail end of 18 months of waiting. And I’ve learned much about being content, of trusting God’s timing, of the poverty of impatience and agendas.

    It’s good to know that we’re not alone in this season, isn’t it …

    Bless you, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Lesley! I really stink at waiting, believe me. Your series will be very good for me, I look forward to it. My hero in waiting is David, who was anointed King when he was a little guy, and then sent right back to the fields to tend the sheep. Yikes…I would feel cheated! But he hung in there faithfully for decades.
    I want to be like that.
    Blessings to you my blog friend from Scotland 🙂
    Ceil

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  4. Waiting can be so hard. These are such great Biblical examples, Lesley. I hope God gives you wisdom and patience in His timing for the fulfillment of this dream He’s given you. This really moves me – “What I am called to do is to remain in him, to stay connected, to let his life and his Spirit flow through me.” Amen. Sometimes we can get so antsy that we lose sight of that. Thank you for your encouragement. Blessings and hugs to you!

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    1. Thanks, Trudy. Waiting can be hard and it is easy to lose sight of God in the midst of that. The book I’m reading (Wait and See by Wendy Pope) talks about keeping our focus not on the object of our wait, but on the person of our faith. It definitely helps if we can do that. Blessings and hugs to you!

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  5. Lesley, such an encouraging post. waiting can be so hard. Been there, friend. Waiting with intention is helpful, and waiting with a heart that trusts God is key. But, again. Hard.

    I loved this: “What I am called to do is to remain in him, to stay connected, to let his life and his Spirit flow through me.”

    Keep pressing on and into Jesus, friend.

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  6. Thank you for this, Lesley. I, too, struggle with waiting. I am prone to form an action plan to achieve my goals. I take off without much regard for what God might want to do in me in the waiting. The practice of Sabbath can help with the discipline of waiting. Taking a day to cease striving and focus on our all-powerful, all-knowing God has helped me to embrace the waiting a bit more. #coffeeforyourheart

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    1. I agree, it is easy to come up with our own action plan and get started without consulting God. Taking time to focus on God and get our perspective right is important.

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  7. I find myself waiting on God a lot. I would much rather know what is going on or what I should do!
    I love the song “While I’m Waiting” by John Waller. “While I’m waiting I will serve You. While I’m waiting I will worship.”

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  8. Lesley, it’s so awesome to read your words on waiting… seems God has us on a similar theme this week, and that just feels so humbling. Doing nothing can be our wisest move… it’s our allowing Him to fill in the blanks and lead us when His timing is ready, not ours.
    Waiting, submitting, expecting with you, my friend! 🙂

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  9. Waiting is a gift in disguise. I learned that this past year as I felt like I was standing still as everyone around me was moving. God showed me the beauty in waiting is how He is working and preparing you on the inside. That work is important to be being prepared for what His plan is for us. Thank you for these words. I love that you are doing a series on this.

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    1. Thanks, Mary. God can certainly use the times of waiting to prepare us and he can work good in them. I am actually starting to see that more through writing this series- looking for God’s purpose and trusting that he has one, rather than seeing it as a waste of time.

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    1. Thanks, Shawn. Yes, even when we hand a situation over to God it is easy to take it back again. It is important to keep trusting.
      I’m afraid I can’t get the link to work- I think it might be the link to where you edit the post rather than the published post.

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