Knowing When to Wait and When to Act

I should make a rule for my life wherein I do not attempt anything until I have been awake for a minimum of one hour. I do some of the klutziest stuff in the early morning. Many of my least graceful moves involve my morning coffee.

This morning as I held my beloved coffee cup in my right hand, and the pot of freshly brewed coffee in my left, I proceeded to dump coffee directly onto the desktop because the cup was still on its way toward a proper alignment underneath the spout of the coffee pot. I had begun pouring before I was ready to do so. The proper procedure for getting coffee into the cup is for the cup to be directly below the pour spout of the coffee pot. It’s Coffee Pouring 101.

Preparation is key to so many areas of our lives. There is a time to prepare, and a time to act. Those who can remember their driver’s education classes will recall being taught to do a full walk-around of the car prior to entry and start-up. Similarly, a pilot will meticulously work through an entire pre-flight examination and check list before ever starting the plane’s engine, and will do this before every flight. There is a time for preparation, and a time for action. This is equally true for the way in which we engage our faith.

The truth of preparation prior to action is illustrated in the reality that Jesus did not begin his ministry until he was thirty years of age. Most of us began our careers a decade prior to that. Some have theorized that Jesus waited so long to begin his ministry because he was occupied with care for his mother and siblings. It is widely assumed from the blatant absence of Joseph from the gospel narratives that Joseph had passed away earlier in Jesus’ life. Another theory holds, based on Numbers 4:2-3, that Jesus waited till the age of thirty to begin his ministry because this is the minimum age required for entering the Levitical priesthood. Whatever his reason(s), it is clear that, for Jesus, there was a time to wait, and a time to act.

Knowing when to act, rather than wait and prepare, can mean the difference between triumph and disaster, so how do we know that it is time to act rather than time to wait? I wish the answer were as simple as that question, but it is not.

  1. On occasion, circumstances will demand action, and in that case, you “create” the right time to act. For example, if someone is in danger (physical or spiritual) there is no choice but to act to rescue them from that danger. You create the time to act based on the urgency.
  2. In some cases, it is always time to act. The example here is a soul that is unsaved – outside the grace of God through the shed blood of Christ. Second Corinthians 6:2 says, “Behold, now is the time of God’s favor; today is the day of salvation.” When salvation is on the line, it is always time to act.
  3. In other instances, you may have been putting something off for a very long time. In my own case, I put off a specific spiritual pursuit for almost fifteen years. Eventually, it became for me what I can describe only as a “holy unrest.” I had to act on it. When I say “holy unrest” I am describing a Holy Spirit urging. It goes well beyond an emotional discomfort. This is something that gnaws at you and will not let you relax. It is a burn that drives you from within. Simple emotions come and go, and with them goes the drive for action. A holy unrest is unrelenting.

If you are contemplating an action and are in the waiting phase, if you are prayerful and watchful, keeping your wick trimmed and your lamp lit, I believe God will honor that watchfulness on your part, and he will let you know with clarity when it is time to act. Be obedient to that holy unrest and you will triumph in the end.

Victoriously in Christ!

– damon

Twitter – @DamonJGray

Over to you: How do you determine when it is time to wait, and when it is time to act?

Damon J. Gray

By commenting, you agree to the Long-View Living Comment Policy.

No Comments

  1. Julie on April 7, 2017 at 12:00 AM

    This entry really spoke to me, as I recently decided to act (I actually told friends I had decided to "surrender") to an urging from the holy spirit about a spiritual pursuit I have considered for at least the last two years. You are right that it really is unrelenting, and during that time the scripture that I was reading, the gospel music I was listening to, the words of friends spoken to me – it was as if every place that I turned, I was receiving the same message. The perfect storm! That's how I knew it was time to stop waiting and act. And I loved the way your writing aligned with my morning scripture reading (John 10:31-42) and Jesus telling the Jews who were about to stone him to believe in his works, his ACTIONS, even if they did not believe that he was in the Father, and the Father was in him. Jesus often impresses upon us the need to act. One can argue with words, but deeds speak for themselves. In the words of the apostle James, "Let me be a doer of the word and not a forgetful hearer."

    • Damon J. Gray on April 7, 2017 at 12:00 AM

      Julie, I completely understand from where you are coming.  When the Spirit of God pricks our heart with a "holy unrest," everything and everyone we encounter seems to be speaking into that unrest. Conversations with friends, devotions we read, sermons we hear, all seem to have that same character that communicates to us, "Oh my gosh! He/she was speaking directly to me." Those are powerful moments. Kudos to you for seeing/hearing it, and having the courage to step into your calling.

      Victoriously in Christ!

      – damon

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.