When a service provider or agent puts us on hold, our flesh rises exponentially with each passing moment. Of course, we can hang up, yell in the phone, and even write bad reviews online….“Bad customer service, was on hold for 10 minutes!”
But for followers of Jesus Christ, our lives, our hopes and expectations, can be put on hold for days, months, even years. “We belong to God” does not imply membership but ownership, we’ve been bought with a price. God heard our cry for deliverance, for healing, for financial breakthrough, for a call to serve – for purpose and fruitfulness in the Kingdom of God – and yet oftentimes He puts us on hold.
Noted English evangelist Leonard Ravenhill speaks of God’s “University of Silence” in his book, ‘Sodom Had No Bible’. Many spiritual giants endured years of ‘silence’, such as Joseph imprisoned for many years and Moses’ 40 years of shepherding. Jesus Himself lived 30 years, seemingly silent, while observing religious hypocrisy and all kinds of human suffering. Noted in Matthew, Jesus surely had divine wisdom and discernment at a young age. But even as God incarnate, Jesus maintained perfect obedience as a Servant – waiting for the Father’s perfect timing to reveal Him as Savior.
As servants ourselves, we may find our particular ministry with its passion and calling, come to a season’s end. It is a tremendous loss as nothing compares to ‘co-laboring in the fields with the Father’ with the joy of God’s Spirit moving. Yet, there are times when our assignment lies only on the sidelines, waiting for God’s perfect timing, His open door and call to service.
“Most of us hate to be under-rated. We may not seek to head the parade, but – and this is our pitiable weakness – we must be in the parade.”! (Leonard Ravenhill)
The ‘University of Silence’ separates us, not only from the world, but often from broad fellowship with believers. God desires an intimacy that comes from separation – often a separation unto Him brought about by loss and suffering. Why separation? Why loss? Why suffering? Why should our hopes and expectations be on hold?
How long should we wait at life’s juncture before God opens the door, reveals His will, or leads us to those “good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”? Obedience requires that we wait indefinitely, faith requires that we hope expectantly!
Conversely, we can create possibilities, try to ‘make things happen’ – but that is not a call of God. That’s the ‘call of King Saul’ who lost the kingdom through his own willfulness. Saul lost his kingship when he ‘appointed’ himself priest and later, void of all spiritual discernment, lost his life after consulting a witch.
When God has us ‘on hold’, when we’re stuck at some juncture, God’s word assures us of His sovereignty and purpose over our lives. He also warns us though, of acting outside His will – it is the dependence upon Him and the surrender to Him that undergird a life pleasing to God.
It is actually an honor to be in God’s ‘University of Silence’. When we are living right and yet He calls us out of the parade and away from all that seems fruitful and winning, He’s calling us to Himself. Being obedient in the everyday ordinary and sitting at the feet of our Lord is not a demotion, it’s a preparation.
God may keep us “on hold” but will never hang up. He is working in that silence, in that wilderness, even in an undeserved ‘prison’. I pray, in these last days, to walk with obedient patience, and yet with living expectancy of God’s call into a new season.