The Divine Ministry of Delay (continued)
There is a great promise upon which every member of Christ's Church just now is building more solidly than ever a temple of hope: "Behold, I come quickly" (Revelation 3:11; 22:7). It seems as though Christ was never so much needed as He is today. It seems as though international relationship can never again be restored as we have known it. It seems as though the scattered units of Christ's Church can never be gathered together again in one, save by His coming. And the Church cries out: "Amen. Come quickly, Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20). But there is not a sign of His coming. What do these delays of God mean?
I am going to suggest three things, and they are mere suggestions; but may they bring light to you, as they have brought to me in the past days. The first thing I want to say about God's delays is this: It is only by enforced waiting upon Him that we come to know God with that knowledge which is the foundation of all character. I use the word enforced waiting upon God, because it is only by being forced to wait upon God that some of us ever do wait on Him. We are naturally impatient, we are naturally impulsive, we naturally chafe at anything like slowness; and God, by withholding the answer for which we have looked, keeps us at His feet in order that we may come to know Him. He is infinitely more concerned in the making and remaking of our lives than in the gratifying of our minds. He is infinitely more concerned in making us men and women of His own pattern, and to deepen His life in our souls, than to gratify some of the desires which we often express in unconsidered prayer. For we cannot come to know God, and inferentially we cannot come to know ourselves, in an hour. God's delays do not indicate any caprice on His part, but rather His concern and compassion for us. They are directed toward saving us from hurrying away from His presence before the lessons of His grace have been more than mentally received. God is preparing us, by keeping us waiting upon Him, worthily to receive, to interpret, and then to use the gifts He will yet give in answer to prayer and in fulfillment of His word.
I constantly see tourist visitors to London rushing about from Park to Palace, doing what they call the "sights." And after a fevered week they go back home thinking they know London. But do they? One of Ruskin's students once said to him, on returning from a first Italian visit: "Sir, immediately I entered the Gallery at Florence, I knew in a moment what you had always impressed upon us as the supremacy of Botticelli." Ruskin's reply was somewhat cutting. He said: "Oh, you found that out in a moment? Well, it took me twenty-two years to discover it!" And there are a great many people who think they know God in the light of a single experience! We are kept waiting upon Him that we may become of the number of those who really do know their God, and who consequently are empowered to do exploits.
God is making us; do not let us be impatient under the process. God is making us; do not let impatience and impetuosity take us, therefore, from under the hand of the Master Workman. He is eliminating the flaws, and remaking the marred vessels. The two qualities which we need most - endurance and radiance - are not imparted to any man in a single hour. God keeps us waiting that in His presence, beholding His glory, we may be changed into the same image from glory to unto glory.
(continued with # 38)