In today’s session Derek looks at how God deals with this problem of independence in man. We may find ourselves in a position like the one the children of Israel faced at the Red Sea—where there is nothing we can do but cry out to the Lord for help and then wait to see what He will do. He waits for us to become desperate and then He acts on our behalf.
“Now the man Moses was the meekest man on all the earth [or the humblest].”
Can you see that God cannot trust power to anybody except the humble. How do you achieve humility? Just spend 40 years in the desert with a flock of sheep. Somebody asked Bob Mumford once why did Moses have to spend 40 years in the desert? Bob answered, “Because God couldn’t do it in 39.” So, God will keep you there till it’s done. You can struggle, you can complain, you can pray; but God is too merciful to answer your prayers. He’s going to leave you till the process is complete.
So that’s way number one to get independent people to become dependent. It’s by waiting.
There’s some other interesting scriptures on waiting which I’d just like to point out to you. Does anybody have a New International Version here near the front? Thank you. I want to read Isaiah 64:4. The reason I do that is because this translation is particularly vivid. Isaiah 64:4:
“Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any god besides you…”
A totally unique being without parallel. And then it mentions one fact about this unique God:
“…No eye has seen any god besides you who acts on behalf of those who wait for Him.”
So what is the distinctive feature of this unique God? Tell me. He acts on behalf of those who wait for Him. Do you want God to act on your behalf? So what do you have to do? Wait for him. What will happen while you’re waiting? You’ll become more and more dependent on God and less and less dependent on yourself. There’s nothing that will do it but waiting.
In 1 Thessalonians 1, Paul speaks about his original contact with the Christians in Thessalonica and how other people reported the remarkable impact that he had. In 1 Thessalonians 1:9–10, Paul says of these other people around:
“For them themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you [that’s the Thessalonians] and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven.”
So what were the two things they had to do? To serve and to wait, you see? That’s the Christian life. We’re all—some of us—excited about serving. How many of us are excited about waiting? But the Christian life is not just serving, it’s serving and waiting. Why? Well, one reason is because waiting deals with that independent spirit in you and brings you to the place of, “God, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve come to the end. If you don’t do it, it won’t happen.” And you know that God is waiting for many of you to come to that place.
Let me read you a passage from Isaiah 30 which I think is a message for some of you here this morning. Isaiah 30, just two verses, verses 18–19:
“Therefore, the Lord will wait that He may be gracious to you...”
Please note that it’s not only you who have to wait, God waits. Why does He wait? That He may be gracious. He’s waiting for you to meet the conditions for Him to show you His grace.
“...and therefore He will be exalted that He may have mercy on you. For the Lord is a God of justice, blessed are all those who wait for Him.”
All right, you want to be blessed? That’s one way.
Then it goes on in the next verse:
“For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem. You shall weep no more. He will be very gracious to you at the sound of your cry. When He hears it He will answer you.”
What is God waiting for? The sound of your cry. He’s waiting till you are desperate, till you come to the place where nothing will suffice but God.
See, a lot of us are afraid of desperation. I think it’s very typical of the British character. We like to have things so we don’t get on too intense an emotional train. But, there’s a place where you can meet with God only if you cry. That Hebrew word to cry means to cry out for help. I think the modern translations translate it that way. But God is waiting to bring you to a place where you’ll cry out for help.
Some of you can look back in your life and remember the point when you became desperate and God moved. God is not a luxury, God is essential. As long as anything else may be more important than God moving, He probably won’t move.
Again, God dealt with people all through the Bible to bring them to the place of desperation. One of the most obvious examples is Israel being delivered out of Egypt. They march out, they’ve had a wonderful Passover, they’ve all been healed, become strong, able to march. They march out in rank, they get to the Red Sea, they look over their shoulders and there is the whole Egyptian army pursuing them. I’ve heard people use the phrase “being between a rock and a hard place”. If anybody ever was between a rock and a hard place, it was Israel with the Red Sea in front and the Egyptian army behind. And what did they do? It says in Exodus 14:10:
“They cried out to the Lord...”
And there are things that God will not do in your life until you cry out. I don’t just mean say a prayer, I mean get desperate. He’s waiting for you to be desperate. He’s waiting to hear your cry. He’s ready to move, He has a plan but He’s not going to release that plan until you are in the condition where you can receive it.
So, what is God dealing with? The one simple, basic problem: our desire not to have to depend on God. There’s not one person here, myself included, who really desires to be totally dependent on God. It’s contrary to our own carnal nature, what was born into us from Adam and Eve. But, it’s the one thing that God is looking for, is to be totally dependent on God, to have no other answer, no other future, no other plans but God. That’s not arbitrary, it’s His way of dealing with the problem of your fleshly nature which is the desire to be independent of God.
God cannot fully work out His plan in the life of any one of us until that issue has been resolved.