Waiting For God In “The Gap”

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:12 NIV).

 

The period between asking God for something and receiving it is often referred to as “the gap.”  Sometimes, the request is granted instantly (e.g., Matthew 9:35, Matthew 5:25-34, Luke 7:1-10).   Other times, the request may linger for years before God responds.  Joseph waited over 13 years before his prophetic promise was fulfilled.  Moses waited 40 years before he had his divine encounter with the flaming voice of God.  Abraham waited 25 years before God granted him a son. 

We often think of waiting as a waste of time.  We all seek instant gratification, and we often confuse God with Santa Claus and expect Him to answer our prayers on our timeframe.   Perhaps a better way to view waiting is to realize that God is using this time to grow us closer to Him.  The Hebrew word for “wait” is literally “to entwine” — like strands of a rope twisted into one. It is important to note that the Bible contains over 7,000 promises to us, but God does not promise that He will fulfill every one of them instantly.  In fact, God has all of eternity to fulfill His promises. That means that some of His promises are certainly not going to be fulfilled in our timeframe, and it also means that some will likely not be fulfilled until our earthly life is over!

I wonder if God is using the time in the gap to grow our faith in Him.  Perhaps He is waiting on us to surrender all to Him, while we are waiting on Him to answer our prayer.  I wish I knew why God choses to quickly honor some requests and not others.  If so, I could certainly cut down on my time in the gap!  I do know that on many occasions after Jesus instantly answered prayers for healing, He mentioned that the petitioner had demonstrated “great faith” by their request to Him.  These petitioners knew that if they were able to get in close proximity to Jesus to ask Him or just touch His garment, that He would honor their request.

Hebrews 11 is commonly referred to as the Hall of Faith.  This chapter details the remarkable accomplishments of some otherwise unremarkable people that were accomplished through faith and begins by defining faith for us.  “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1).  The Apostle Paul expanded upon this concept when he wrote, “For we walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  This goes against our natural instincts and is very difficult to do. 

For me, faith is waiting for something that you know is coming but you have absolutely no idea when it will come.  The time in the gap requires endurance, and true endurance comes from God.   

God will likely not talk to us through a booming voice in the sky, a burning bush, or a prophet as He did in the Bible.  However, He is alive and talking to each of us right now through Scripture.   He is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

Our tendency during time in the gap is to look at the problem.  Our tendency in the gap is to look at the mountain rather than the One that taught us that we could move mountains.  Moses modelled the same approach as those that approached Jesus with faith in their hearts and asked for healing. The Bible says that Moses “kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27).  Moses showed great faith and we can “move mountains” and do even greater things than Jesus but only through faith.

During my time in the gap, I often asked God, “How much longer?”  I have come to realize that God wants me to build my life on His promises rather than seeking His explanations for not following my time frame. In fact, God doesn’t owe me or you an explanation for anything. God is God, and we are not.  I often think of God’s response when Job questioned His actions.  “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand” (Job 38:4).

I enjoy being a substitute pastor at local United Methodist Churches.  During these times, I often preach about a topic that is a struggle for myself and likely others in the congregation.  Similarly, I often write blogs for similar reasons.  This is now the sixth time that I have addressed the topic of waiting for God.  I have made progress over the years, but as with many things, I am still a work in progress.

On one hand I have faith in God, but on the other hand I would really like some assurances that He is taking me to the place I want to go.  True freedom comes when I stop asking where we are going and understand that wherever we are going, it will be better than whatever I had planned and we will arrive at the perfect time.  For me the key to finding peace in the gap is to embrace the journey, forget my timeframe, and worship God rather than question Him or lobby Him to embrace my plan.

Prayer:  Please forgive us for our lack of faith in You during times in the gap.  Help us to embrace this time as a time to grow closer to You and lean not on our own understanding.  We not only cast our cares upon you, but we also seek to fasten our yoke to you to lighten our burdens and keep our paths straight.  Amen.

Meet the Author

Todd Shupe is a Men’s Ministry Specialist through the General Commission of United Methodist Men and is in training to be a Certified Lay Minister through the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church. He currently serves as the President of the Baton Rouge District of United Methodist Men and is a Board Member for Gulf South Men and serves on the Action Team for The Kingdom Group. He is a volunteer for the Walk to Emmaus, Grace Camp, and Iron Sharpens Iron. Todd resides in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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