Eight weeks ago, I was blessed with the opportunity to attend a Bible study at Northside Assembly. I had no idea what I was in for. God brought some of the most beautiful, sweet and precious ladies into my life. I will forever cherish them. They may never know the extent of my gratitude for how they encouraged me, and lifted me up. I’m so grateful to have met each one of them.
The study was an eight week study and this was our final week. The book was about waiting. We all go through periods of waiting, and since we are not always the most patient, it’s usually frustrating to wait.
I myself have been in a waiting period in a couple of areas. I’ve been in this position of waiting, over and over again. You would think I would get used to it, but every season of waiting is different in its own way. Even though I travel and speak all over the nation, I still have a huge desire to minister in my local area. God has blessed me with a jail ministry (in a town other than my own) that has been such a huge blessing to me. I have been overwhelmed and amazed by all the things God has done behind prison doors.
But, I have been burdened for my hometown as well. At the beginning of February I started trying to get into the jail in my own town. It has been a long 3 months, and I finally decided it just was not going to happen. I contacted the jail chaplain, and he put me on the ministers list months ago, but nothing else happened. I called and left messages at the jail. No one would call me back. I thought I might have to rob a bank just to get in!
I was so frustrated. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has been with me in this ministry to inmates in the other jails. I believed with all my heart He would want me to go into my local jail to minister. So, why was this proving to be an impossibility?
You should have heard some of the conversations I had with God about it. I begged Him to open the doors so I could get in. I prayed and asked Him to lift the burden from my heart if it was not His will that I go there to minister. The burden never lifted. My frustration grew even more. I decided to give God an ultimatum. (Don’t act like you are holier than I am, and have never done it.) I prayed, “God, I’m going to call the jail one more time, and if I don’t get an answer today, I’m going to just accept that You don’t want me to go in there, and I’m going to forget it!”
I refused to accept the fact that God was just telling me to be patient and wait. I thought I had to have a “right now” answer. Isn’t that what frustrates us the most? We want right now answers, or right now results. If this is what You want me to do God, then make it happen right now! But, our demands do not move the hand of God—our patience and putting our trust in Him and His timing does.
As I went through this eight week study with these precious women of God, I was reminded of how faithful God is. He’s always ON TIME, even if it’s not the timing we are hoping for. So many times when we get tired of waiting, we start putting demands on God, or start giving Him ultimatums, when we should be giving Him praise, and thanking Him for the lessons He is teaching us in the meantime.
Of course waiting isn’t fun. But, when we offer our praise and do what we can during the wait, it becomes easier. This was the prayer I prayed at the end of April:
“Lord, I really don’t understand why it is so hard to get into this jail, but I trust in what You are doing. I know You have it all planned out. Even though I can’t see anyway to get in, I know that You have called me to this ministry, and no door is closed to You. Thank You for opening the right doors for me. I may not know what You are doing, but I trust in what You are saying. Amen.”
A few days later, I decided to contact the jail one more time. I went to their website to find their phone number, and a name and email address seemed to just leap off the page at me. It was like God led me right to it, and whispered into my heart, “Send her an email.” That is exactly what I did, and within an hour she had replied giving me the next steps to get into the jail. I would need to attend their orientation class. The class is only given once every six months, and it would be available in just a few days! Do you think that was coincidence? I don’t. God knew exactly what I needed to do to get in. He also knew exactly when the class would be available.
The whole time I thought He was ignoring my pleas to open the door, He knew exactly when it would be the right time. And when He was ready, He opened the door, and showed me exactly what I needed to do, who to contact, and when.
Waiting isn’t easy, but we can trust that our God knows what’s best, and His timing is perfect. We often feel like He is ignoring us, but He is continually working things in our favor. We don’t have to know what He is doing, but we can certainly trust what He is saying. If He tells us to wait, we need to wait. If He tells us to move, we need to move! And, if we feel He is saying nothing, keep doing what you are doing, and praise Him even more.
Donna Sparks is an International Speaker and Evangelist. She is the Author of Beauty From Ashes: My Story of Grace, and, No Limits: Embracing the Miraculous.