Walter Houston was a devoted Christian who died at age 91. He had been waiting on the Lord to give him clear direction about what to do with his life for 70 years. His wife in Tupelo, Mississippi, said, “He hung around the house and prayed a lot, but just never got that confirmation. Sometimes he thought he heard God’s voice, but then he wouldn’t be sure, and he’d start the process all over again.” She said he never really figured out what his life was about, but felt content to pray continuously about what he might do for the Lord. Whenever he was about to take action, he would pull back “because he didn’t want to disappoint God or go against Him in any way. He was very sensitive to always remain in God’s will.”
Friends also observed that he never seemed to capitalize on his talents. One stated, “Walter had a number of skills he never got around to using. He worked very well with wood and had a storyteller side to him, too. I always told him to take a risk and try something new if you’re not happy, but he was too afraid of letting the Lord down.”
What a contrast to most of us! We storm off in all directions to do whatever we think needs to be done or whatever we want to do, often forgetting to ask the Lord for any direction at all. Compelled by the urgency of the matter at hand, we push and pull, strain and stress, and wonder why the Lord doesn’t help us. Our impatience can ruin our relationships, keep us from being able to sleep and even wreck our health and career. Our successes along the way, without prayer, leave us proud of our accomplishments and desperate for recognition by others.
How can we find that place we might call balance? On one hand, there’s Walter’s extreme, paralyzed by his fear of not doing God’s will, so much that he prayed and waited, but did almost nothing else. On the other hand, the opposite extreme has most of us constantly in motion, rarely praying and never being willing to wait for the Lord’s direction. James 4:13-16 was written for us! “Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil.” (4:15-16)
We may never have Moses’ burning bush (Exodus 3) or Paul’s vision with the Macedonian call (Acts 16:6-10), but we can be confident of living and working right in the center of God’s will. He can use every gift He gave you. He can use your education, your connections with influential people and those in need, even your preferences and personality. Start each day asking God to direct you to the people He wants to bless through you. It might be your family, or a client or a stranger. Whether you’re cleaning their toilet or taking their case to the Supreme Court, you can be His servant to them, all to His glory and not yours.
Yes, the Lord can do some of His best work on/in us when we are waiting (Isaiah 40:28-31), but don’t be like Walter. Use that strength from the Lord to do the next right thing. “Those that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength…they will run and not grow weary.” (40:31)
Article copyright (c) 2009 by Charles G. Mickey. All rights reserved.