How to Handle Seasons of Delay in a God-Honoring Way
By Banning Liebscher
I hate delays. I do everything I can to avoid them. I stay away from certain streets, airports, and the freeway during high-traffic hours because I hate delays. I don’t think I’m alone in this; so much of the technology of our modern world is built around eliminating delays wherever we find them. From our perspective, things that slow us down and waste our time seem to have no real purpose but to hassle us and cause headaches.
But we have a problem, because God does not hate delays. He uses them frequently on our journey. The walk to which he calls us is full of delays, and there is no app to help us avoid them. A delay is a gap between the moment when God awakens dreams, speaks promises, calls you to an assignment, or hears your prayers and the moment when those things become reality. Every time we set out to engage what God has called us to be and to do, delay is part of the journey, for a reason. The way we respond to delay plays a critical role in shaping success or failure on this journey.
The Bible gives us many examples of the different ways people respond to delay. Some people did not respond well, and the results are pretty sobering. Consider the story of Aaron and the golden calf.
When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down
from the mountain, the people gathered together to
Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall
go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought
us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has
become of him.”
And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings
which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and
your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people
broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears,
and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold
from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving
tool, and made a molded calf.
Then they said, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought
you out of the land of Egypt!”
So when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. And
Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast
to the Lord.”
—EXODUS 32:1–5 NKJV
In the delay, Aaron led the children of Israel into idolatry. If Moses hadn’t been there to intercede, they wouldn’t have lived to see another day. Though Moses managed to help them clean up that particular mess with God, their motives for mishandling the delay remained unchanged. They continued to complain and rebel until God declared they were disqualified from entering the promised land. That generation never fulfilled their call; they died in the desert.
Then there’s the story of Saul making sacrifices without Samuel. He did this after learning that the Philistines had amassed their army of 6,000 charioteers and uncountable soldiers. With his soldiers trembling with fear, Saul managed to hold them together with Samuel’s promise that he would come in seven days to make the required sacrifices to bless the army and inquire of the Lord as to what their strategy should be. When the seven days passed and Samuel didn’t come, however, Saul’s men began to scatter.
In this delay, Saul became desperate, took matters into his own hands, and made the sacrifices. No sooner had he finished the job than Samuel arrived to tell Saul the serious consequences of his presumption. “Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the LORD your God, which He commanded you. For now the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought for Himself a man after His own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be commander over His people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you’” (1 Samuel 13:13–14 NKJV).
In the delay, Saul fell into disobedience, and the cost was severe: he lost his royal dynasty. The calling of every king was to establish their reign and a royal lineage. By mishandling the delay, Saul disqualified himself from fulfilling that call.
In contrast to Bible stories like Aaron’s and Saul’s are stories like David’s. The man after God’s own heart experienced a 13-year delay between being anointed king and ascending to the throne. During that time, David had many opportunities to take his call and destiny into his own hands, but every time he refused. As a result, God established his royal dynasty eternally, even choosing to bring his own Son to earth through David’s line.
These stories show us there are high stakes connected to how we handle delays. In the cases of Aaron, Saul, and David, these stakes were extreme, as they were all leaders whose decisions affected millions of people. But the test in all three situations was the same. Aaron and Saul found themselves surrounded by terrified people pressuring them to act, and they caved to the fear of man. David likewise was pressured by his men to take Saul’s life when he had the chance, but he feared God more than man and didn’t give in. No matter who we are, this is the test we will face in the delay: either to take matters into our own hands and try to make our call happen according to our strength, our way, and our timing or to stay in a place of trust and surrender and allow God to lead us in his plan for fulfilling our call.
In the delay, we see what’s in our hearts. Do we fear man or God? Will we trust ourselves or God? Do we have to be in control, or do we want God to be in control? Only in the delay do these things rise to the surface so we can deal with them and make powerful choices to align our hearts with God’s heart for us.
Adapted from The Three-Mile Walk: The Courage You Need to Live the Life God Wants for You by Banning Liebscher. Click here to learn more about this book.
We are all called to be change-makers in the world, and yet many of us don’t know how to answer the call. Jesus Culture founder and pastor Banning Liebscher reveals the three key moves that will awaken your heart and propel you into a life of divine purpose.
You were made for more than a life of holy discontent—more than the frustrating sense of sitting on the sidelines of your own life’s purpose. From the beginning, Jesus has beckoned us out of passivity and into a high-stakes adventure with hearts fully alive, lives fully engaged, and the courage needed for both.
With a heart-stirring message and compelling stories, founder of Jesus Culture and pastor Banning Liebscher will equip you with practical guidance to be and do all that God has called you to. The Three-Mile Walk draws from the biblical story of Jonathan, who, after a treacherous three-mile hike, boldly stepped into battle and watched God work a stunning victory in the midst of impossible odds. Likewise, Liebscher presents the three key attributes you need to fully engage your mission—courage, holiness, and faith. In his power-packed, memorable style, Liebscher offers fresh insight and instruction for answering your calling with a courageous “yes,” and setting out on the journey of a lifetime.
You are meant to change the world. It’s going to be tough, surprising, and more fulfilling than you can imagine. You just need the courage to rise up and walk it out. A curriculum is also available. Learn more at threemilewalkbook.com.
Banning Liebscher is a pastor, speaker, and author. Along with his wife, SeaJay, he founded Jesus Culture, a ministry of worship, conferences, and leadership development. In 2014, they planted Jesus Culture Sacramento, a local church in California with a passion to see people fully engaged in becoming who God has called them to be and to do what God has called them to do. Find out more at jesusculture.com.
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