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Why is doing the Lordâ€™s work the Lordâ€™s way so important? If the job is getting done, doesnâ€™t that justify the means?
The answer is no.
Why is it so critical for us to continually take the time to wait upon Him and hear from Him, drawing close and living in His presence? Because when we do not, we are walking in sin.
You see, there are two types of sin that we need to be mindful of. One is the sin of rebellionâ€”we refuse to wait to know what the Masterâ€™s will is and do what we want to do with an independent, rebellious spirit, void of brokenness and humility.
The second is the sin of presumption. This is where we run ahead with our own plans and in our own understanding, never taking the time to hear what He desires or to find out His ways.
The prevention to each of these sins is found in waiting upon the Lord.
You see, by choosing to come into His presence, we leave aside our agenda and prepare ourselves to submit to His yoke. In His presence we are changed; the independent spirit is substituted for His will and His ways. Our hearts change as a deep transformation takes place within.
Yet it never happens overnight. This process of continually changing and becoming like the Lord only takes place as we take the time to be with Him, to sit at His feet and to gaze upon Him (see 2 Corinthians 3:18).
It is in these times that we are emptied of ourselves and become one with Christ. We experience the joy and victory of knowing that the ministry we have received is from the Lord and for Him (see 1 Corinthians 4:1). It is through this that the Lord can manifest His life and His glory and carry out His purposes through our earthen vessels, just as Jesus allowed His Father to fulfill His plan through His life on earth.
Freed for Pure Ministry
Waiting before the Lord and ministering to Him is so crucial because it deals with the worst enemy that keeps us from experiencing the fullness of Godâ€™s life, out of which all ministry must flow. That enemy is our â€śself.â€ť
As we pull away from the busyness and all that can seem to clutter our lives and wait before Him, God removes us from ourselves and into His pure presence. By this our life and ministry are made pure, bringing Him true glory and honor.
As a goldsmith purifies the metal in the furnace, so our waiting in His presence is the means by which the Lord purifies our soul.
Hebrews 12:29 tells us that, â€śOur God is a consuming fire.â€ť As we throw ourselves into His hands and abandon all that we areâ€”all of our plans, ambitions, ministry, desires, everythingâ€”the knowledge of the Holy One, the Consuming Fire, invades every area of our being, purifying us. The knowledge of the Lord and the understanding of His ways gradually consume all that is earthly and of self.
Even Job, the man acknowledged by God as the most godly and righteous person on earth, still had to go through this fire of purification. While his friends and wife did not understand the ways of God, he waited before the Lord, crying out, â€śWhen He has tried me, I shall come forth as goldâ€ť (Job 23:10, NASB).
In her book Experiencing the Depths of Jesus Christ, Madame Guyon writes about this change that takes place as we wait upon the Lord, using nature as an example.
Observe the ocean. The water in the ocean begins to evaporate. Then the vapor begins moving toward the sun. As the vapor leaves the earth, it is full of impurities; however, as it ascends, it becomes more refined and more purified. What did the vapor do? The vapor did nothing. It simply remained passive. The purifying took place as the vapor was drawn up into the heavens! There is one difference between your soul and those vapors. Although the vapor can only be passive, you have the privilege of cooperating voluntarily with the Lord as He draws you inwardly toward Himself. . . . Of course, the closer you are drawn to God, the farther you are removed from the activities of your natural man. The natural man, to be sure, is very opposed to your inward drawing toward God. Nonetheless, there will come a point when you will finally be established in [waiting before Him]. From that point on, it will be natural for you to live before the Lord!1
If our outward actions are the result of a change that has taken place deep within our heartsâ€”which comes from our intimate fellowship with Himâ€”then what we do has spiritual value and lasts for eternity.
We donâ€™t want to be like the prophets in Jeremiahâ€™s time. They were servants of God, yet they did not remain in that attitude of waiting before Him, to hear from Him and follow His ways rather than their own. Because of this, their rebellious hearts led them and many astray. Of them God said,
â€śThey speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. . . . But which of them has stood in the council of the LORD to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? . . . I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deedsâ€ť (Jeremiah 23:16, 18, 21â€“22, NIV, emphasis mine).
Notice how all this happened because they would not stand before the Lord. They were full of activityâ€”prophesying, preaching, and so onâ€”but it was not done out of standing before Him, ministering to Him or waiting in His presence. Their hearts and ministry were never purified, and the work they did did not flow out of love for Him. Their work was not done in the Lordâ€™s way.
The only way we can live a life and ministry pleasing to God is if we come His wayâ€”the way of listening, humbling ourselves and continually following. We who began well must be careful to continue on the right path.
We must take the time to wait before Him, looking to Him alone until the whole divine presence comes and fills our soul. This is the only way we are prepared to serve others on behalf of our Lord.