Last Sunday’s message from Acts 1:12-26 (“What Waiting Means”) prompted someone to voice a question we all have asked at one time or another: How can we discern when it’s time to wait and when it’s time to act?
Before I address the question, I think it it important to note that there are, in my opinion, two types of waiting: a general waiting for deliverance and a particular waiting for direction. It is the “particular” waiting for direction that I think this person is referencing, and it is that aspect of waiting that I will primarily address.
But first, a brief word about the general waiting we are all experiencing — waiting for deliverance. Yes, we are awaiting the return of Jesus who will come and rescue us from this evil world and finally restore his kingdom. This doesn’t mean we may never go through persecution, even martyrdom, as did our early brothers and sisters, and as many do now in various parts of the world. But it does mean that evil will not reign permanently. There is a day we are awaiting when Jesus will return and make things right. That’s what all his followers are looking towards and waiting on — ultimate deliverance.
And even while we are waiting, we are witnessing and working. Just like Jesus our model said, “I must work for the night is coming.”
But I think the question is actually targeting a different type of waiting, a waiting, in particular, for direction. If this is where you are, how can you discern when to keep waiting and when to start acting?
At the risk of being simplistic, let me offer one nugget: If you’re wondering, you probably still need to wait.
You see, God doesn’t speak unclearly; we simply hear that way at times. Yet, we often unfairly pray for “God to be clear.” Truthfully, when God speaks, you’ll know it. Moses did (Ex. 2). Paul and Barnabas did (Acts 13). And John 10 states emphatically “my sheep hear my voice and they follow me.”
Furthermore, we are exhorted in both Romans and the first letter to the Corinthians not to engage in things without full confidence. In fact, Paul starkly says that “whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). So if you’re not fully confident Jesus has given you the green light, he probably hasn’t. Keep waiting.
Believe me, when its time to do more, you’ll know it. Till then, keep prayerfully and carefully obeying what you know even when you don’t know what’s next.