Waiting for the Light to Turn Green
Waiting for the Light to Turn Green
Over the 38 years that Annie and I have been married, one of my favorite stories is about a time when she and her friends had gotten the car from her parents and went for a drive. She had stopped at a “Stop” sign and remained there until a friend sarcastically asked, “Are you waiting for the light to turn green?” After realizing they had been distracted, they laughed about it and drove on.
Now here I was driving in Washington, DC, when I heard the honk from the car behind me. It wasn’t one of those obnoxious, lean on the horn, honks but rather the kind that says ‘wake up and pay attention’. I realized I had gotten distracted, looked up and waved apologetically. This experience made me realize that many times during my life I was waiting for the light to turn green. In fact, I was so busy staring at the red light that I missed the light turning green.
Have you ever found yourself stopped waiting for the light to turn green, only to find that you missed it? Maybe you stopped because a job came along and you wondered if it was right for you. Maybe you stopped because you needed guidance on a major purchase, perhaps buying a house. Maybe you stopped to focus on attention to your marriage, your children, or maybe you were considering changing your church. You stopped and found yourself waiting for an answer. You stopped, waiting for the light to turn green when you should have put your foot on the gas.
Isn’t it amazing, and perhaps frustrating, how these stops sometimes happen in our walk with God? We become distracted. We struggle through thanksgiving, we struggle with confession, and ultimately work our way through supplication. We focus on prayer but are distracted and can’t seem to move forward. We go through the practice of prayer in search of answers which begs the question:
How do I know when my prayer is answered?
I don’t remember where I first found the answer, but it was simple and straight to the point. “You know your prayer has been answered when you stop worrying about it.” This answer made me realize that there is a release that comes over us. Philippians 4:7 (MSG) tells us:
“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down.”
Does this mean that once we pray we no longer have any responsibility to act? No. I believe that faith must be coupled with action. Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all—it is dead and useless (James 2:17, TLB). I believe that answered prayers require that we use a four-step process.
- Pray – Proverbs 16:3 (MSG) tells us “put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.” This is especially critical to discern that the plan is God inspired.
- Plan – Proverbs 24:27 (NLT) says “Do your planning and prepare your fields before you build your house.” God often answers our prayers not by resolving the situation; but by guiding us through the process of reaching its solution; we call this revelation.
- Prepare – We have a responsibility to prepare ourselves before launching our plans. We must identify and take the necessary actions to implement our plans. Remember, the best GPS in the world won’t move the car if you didn’t put gas in the tank.
- Produce – The best plan in the world is useless if we don’t put the plan into action. The farmer knows that he must prepare the field but it he doesn’t plant the crop there won’t be a harvest to reap.
However, throughout this process we must remember that it is not our will that will ensure our success but God’s word. Isaiah 55:11 (CEV) reminds us “That’s how it is with my words. They don’t return to me
without doing everything I send them to do.”
“In other words, people cannot make their desires a reality merely by applying Isaiah 55:11 to whatever situation they desire. The only word that God guarantees is the word that proceeds from His mouth. Any other word from any other source does not carry this type of authority (The Meaning of Isaiah, mattakers.blogspot.com).”
Remember, if it is God’s plan it is already approved so stop waiting for the light to turn green and step on the gas!